New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday favoured a constructive debate on simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and Assemblies and funding of polls to eradicate money power.
The Government, he said, is also committed to combating terrorism and to ensure that perpetrators of such acts are brought to justice.
In his address to the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament marking the opening of the Budget session, Mukherjee referred to the government's demonetisation decision to fight black money and corruption as also the surgical strikes across the LoC as bold decisions, both of which were received with thumping of desks by members.
"Frequent elections put on hold development programmes, disrupted normal public life and impact essential services and burden human resource with prolonged period of election duty, said the President.
He further added, "My government welcomes a constructive debate on the simultaneous conduct of elections to Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. Funding of elections to eradicate misuse of money power also needs to be debated."
In the speech, which is the Government's narrative on what it had done during the year and what it plans to do in the new financial year, the President said Government would welcome any decision taken by Election Commission in this regard after consultations.
Referring to the surgical strikes, Mukherjee said the government had taken decisive steps to give a fitting reply to the repeated incursions on India's territorial sovereignty.
"On September 29, 2016, our defence forces successfully conducted surgical strikes at several launch pads along the Line of Control to prevent infiltration by terrorists. We are proud of the exemplary courage and valour displayed by our defence personnel and owe a debt of gratitude to them," he said.
Touching on the demonetisation decision, the President said the resilience and forbearance demonstrated by the countrymen especially the poor, recently in the fight against black money and corruption, is remarkable.
Later again, referring to the issue, he said, "My Government has taken bold decisions in the interest of the poor."
To combat evils of black money, corruption, counterfeit currency and terror financing, Mukherjee said the government took the decision on November 8 to demonetise old 500 and 1000 rupee currency notes.
"My government's very first cabinet decision (in 2014) was to set up a SIT on black money. The passing of Black money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act 2015; Benami transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016; and amendments to treaties with Singapore, Cyprus and Mauritius; and providing for Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, have together resulted in a comprehensive policy backed initiative against black money," he said.