Monday, 19 May 2008

Indian PM addresses the parliament

May 18: The Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh addressed the joint session of the parliament yesterday morning.

He is the first foreign dignitary to address the joint session of the parliament after Bhutan became a constitutional democratic monarchy.

Their Majesties the Queens Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck and Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck and Their Royal Highnesses the Princesses Ashi Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck and Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck also attended the parliament on the occasion.

Addressing the parliament, Dr. Manmohan Singh said he is happy to be in Bhutan at this historic time and celebrate with the people of Bhutan their towering achievements.

He said as the first ever elected representatives of the people, the parliament members bear a special responsibility and have a unique opportunity to translate the aspiration of the Bhutanese people into reality.

He said democracy requires sustained commitment to tolerance and judicious exercise of power as a societal trust to be used for public good. It requires deep commitment to the rule of law. It requires the building of strong institutions of governance and respect for other’s views.

Speaking about Indo-Bhutan relations, he said Bhutan and India have created a unique, unparalleled, and time tested partnership of peace and friendship. He said both countries have a vital stake in each other’s wellbeing and prosperity.

Dr. Manmohan Singh also paid tribute to His Majesty the King. He said His Majesty’s deep concern for the people and determination to create a policy framework that maximizes their potential holds great promise for Bhutan.

Dr. Manmohan Singh informed the house that they will begin constructing a rail link between India and Bhutan connecting Hashimara to Phuentsholing and establish a scholarship in the name of Pandit Nehru and the third Druk Gyalpo for Bhutanese students to study in leading Indian universities and institutions.

Talking about India’s assistance to the 10th five year plan, Dr. Manmohan Singh said the bilateral economic engagement over the next five years will be around Rs. 100 billion.

Welcoming the Prime Minister of India, the National Assembly speaker Tshogpoen Jigme Tshultim said it is a matter of great satisfaction that Indo-Bhutan relations are stronger than ever.

He said the destinations of the two countries are inexorably linked and expressed confidence that the visit of Dr. Manmohan Singh will further strengthen the relations between the two countries.

In his vote of thanks, the chairperson of the National Council Namgay Penjore said the support of the people and government of India has been instrumental in realizing the aspirations of the Bhutanese people.

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