Admitting that handling inflation is a shortcoming of the UPA government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday asserted that there was need to take "solid steps" to ease the situation on price rise especially this year.
He said a major reason for this has been hike in the rates of petroleum products in the international market during the last eight years and the benefit extended to farmers by increasing the minimum support price for crops.
"We need to take sold steps to eliminate inflation,especially in 2013-14," he said.
Comparing UPA's performance with the predecessor NDA,Singh said the growth rate during the six years of previous regime was 5.8 per cent, while the UPA's eight year rule saw it increase to 8.2 per cent per annum.
Similarly, he said, the UPA has fared better in eliminating poverty and improving agricultural growth.Referring to the brutal gangrape incident in Delhi, the Prime Minister said the country has to travel a long way to provide women with equal social and economic equity.
"We should not forget that women are half of our population and their contribution to development and prosperity is necessary," he said.
Singh said he is committed himself to reforms, called on the party to communicate the UPA government's achievements to the people and urged Pakistan to do more to tackle terror.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh said has expressed hope that the Jaipur chintan shivir will give a new direction to the party.
"We have fulfilled many promises made in the previous two elections. The result of our efforts will be seen in the coming years," said the PM, who lamented that the government had not been able to curb price rise this year. He, however, said that steps will be taken in 2013-14 to curb price rise.
“We have kept most of the promises we made to the public. However, since we didn’t go out and beat our own drums, people in the country are under the impression that we have done nothing. Also, states where the Congress is not in power, have gone all out to malign us claiming that all the policies that the poor and the farmers are benefitting from are theirs. When in the reality, all those policies have been framed by us for the benefit of the poor,” he added.
Singh launched a direct attack on the former NDA governments in attempt to salvage their own. “During the NDA’s six year rule, the GDP growth of the country was just 5.7 percent. In our eight years, the GDP growth has been more than 8 percent. Poverty has decreased at a rate 2.5 times greater than it had in the NDA’s time. Why are people not talking about our achievements? Because we didn’t go out and tell them that we have done so many things for them, an opportunity the Opposition used to their benefit,” said Singh.
Addressing workers on the last day of the meeting , Manmohan Singh highlighted the achievements of the UPA government.
"A question arises as to why people are not identifying our achievements. One of the reasons is that we (Congress) have not propagated our achievements. Perhaps our communication strategy has not been effective," he said.
Often people do not come to know what schemes are providing them benefits and that they belonged to the Central government, Singh said adding that on many occasions non-Congress government exploited this by taking credit for them as their own.
Referring to the youth, he said in future schemes the government would have to assure the crores of youth that it fully understands their aspirations and would take effective steps to fulfil their demand.
On corruption, the Prime Minister said they understand the anger and difficulties of the common man on the issue. "We have taken several steps to improve transparency and accountability and check wrongdoings," he said citing measures including the removal of discretionary powers of public servants and use of latest technology.
The government is committed to the establishment of a strong Lokpal and hoped that the attempt would be successful soon, he said. On Right to Information, Singh because of the transparency the shortcoming of the government and bureaucracy have come to be known which other remained unseen. "We welcome this. Whenever any wrong doing has come to our notice, we
have taken effective action against it," he said.
PM asks Pak to reciprocate India's efforts for friendship
Manmohan had some strong words for Pakistan and he stressed the need to improve communication strategy to ensure the good work done by the government is made known to the people.
PM said that it was necessary to create an environment where women felt safe. "The law will be changed, if necessary," he added. He urged party members to connect with the youth. "The youth today is more aware and ambitious. We must fulfill their demands," he said.
Asserting that the recent beheadingof the Indian soldier along LoC has cast a "negative impact"on bilateral ties, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked Pakistan to reciprocate India's efforts for friendship withit.
"We take a consistent review of our ties with Pakistan.The incident has cast a negative impact on our ties. We will take steps with care and due consideration," he saidaddressing a meeting of AICC here.
"We want friendship with Pakistan. They should also make efforts in this regard. It is not possible only with our efforts," the Prime Minister said.
His remarks were greeted with applause from the gathering of delegates at AICC which was presided by party chief Sonia Gandhi with Vice President Rahul Gandhi on her side.
Lance Naik Hemraj was beheaded by Pakistani soldiers in a cross-Line of Control (LoC) attack in Poonch sector of Jammu
and Kashmir on January 8.