Dynastic politics a threat to healthy democracy: PM Modi on Constitution Day
The PM also warned against the tendency of ’forgetting and glorifying convicted corrupt people’, invoked Dr BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, and tore into opposition parties without naming anyone
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at political dynasts on Friday during Constitution Day celebrations, and said parties controlled by the same family for generations posed a threat to a healthy democracy.
In his speech in Parliament’s Central Hall, the PM also warned against the tendency of “forgetting and glorifying convicted corrupt people”, invoked Dr BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, and tore into opposition parties without naming anyone.
“In the form of family-based parties, India is heading towards a kind of a crisis, How can the parties which have lost their democratic character protect democracy?” he asked.
“A party run by one family generation after generation and the family controlling the entire system of the party is the biggest threat to a healthy democracy,” he added.
At the event, which 13 opposition parties boycotted, President Ram Nath Kovind called opposition forces as “the most important element of democracy”.
“Without an effective Opposition, democracy becomes ineffective. It is expected that the government and the Opposition, despite their differences, continue to work together in the best interests of the citizens,” he said.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said legislatures should be guided by dialogue and debate and not be rendered dysfunctional through disruptions.
Constitution Day celebrates November 26, 1949 when the Indian Constitution was formally adopted by the Constituent Assembly. The Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, marking Republic Day.
PM Modi reminded people about their sense of duty, and maintained that Gandhi had tried to prepare the nation for the duties while he fought for the rights in the freedom movement. “It would have been better if the duty had been emphasised after the country’s independence. In the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, it is necessary for us to move forward on the path of duty so that our rights are protected”, the PM said. Modi also remembered the Mumbai terror attacks and described 26/11 as “such a sad day for us”.
While several political outfits in India are tightly controlled by families, the PM made it clear that he targeted the Congress. “More than one person from a family joining the party on the basis of merit does not make the party dynastic. Problems arise when a party is run by the same family, generation after generation,” he said.
PM dubbed political dynasts as “a matter of concern for people devoted to the Constitution and for those who believe in democracy.” He argued that spirit and every section of the Constitution is hurt” when political parties shed their democratic character.
Modi’s sharp attack came after the Congress-led Opposition boycotted the official celebrations of the Constitution Day in Parliament. Congress leaders don’t rule out a wider context of the comment in the backdrop of the upcoming series of electoral battles in five states.
The Congress defended its decision. “We protested to remind our country that the Constitution is not being respected. The Constitution is being undermined and parliamentary democracy is being undermined, insulted with the enactment of the laws bypassing any parliamentary scrutiny, which is creating enormous problems,” said Anand Sharma, Congress’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla expressed distress over the boycott. He said, “If the Opposition had any issues, they could have spoken to me. A function which is chaired by President of India, should be kept above politics.” He added that “dialogue and discuss is the only way forward. All agenda are discussed in Business advisory committee that has leaders from various parties.”
Last week, addressing the legislative presiding officer’s conference in Shimla, the PM had spoke of duty and had said that for the next 25 years — till 100 years of Independence — legislators must work to fulfil their national duties.
On Friday, the PM maintained that “today is the day to pay homage” to the “far-sighted great personalities” like Gandhi, Ambedkar, Rajendra Prasad and all those who made sacrifices during the freedom struggle. He added that “today is the day to salute this house”.
President Kovind said that lawmakers as “defenders of the dignity of the Parliament” must have only one priority: “working for the welfare of all the people of their constituencies and for the interest of the nation.”
He also said that it’s natural for ruling and Opposition sides to compete, but the competition must be for doing “better things for the public good.”
Naidu voiced concern over disruptions in Parliament proceedings and said the people’s mandate to the government should be respected.“We need to have more meaningful, productive use of our time in Parliament. We need to recognise the exalted place that Parliament occupies in public perception,” he said.