From ex-Prez Pranab Mukherjee, a message on dissent, protests and consensus
President Pranab Mukherjee was speaking at the first Sukumar Sen memorial lecture organised by the election commission. The lecture has been instituted in the memory of first Chief Election Commissioner of India....Updated: Jan 24, 2020 06:50 IST
The wave of peaceful protests that have gripped the country shall enable deepening India’s democratic roots, former President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday. Mukherjee’s remarks are seen in the context of protests that started after the ruling NDA coalition at the Centre pushed the Citizenship Amendment Act through Parliament last month. He did not specify the citizenship law in his address but hardly left anyone in doubt either.
“The last few months have witnessed people come out on the streets in large numbers, particularly the young to voice out their views on issues which in their opinion are important. Their (protesters’) assertion and belief in the Constitution is particularly heartening to see,” said Mukherjee.
Mukherjee was speaking at the first Sukumar Sen memorial lecture organised by the election commission. The lecture has been instituted in the memory of first Chief Election Commissioner of India.
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The Constitution and the reading of the preamble has been a central and common thread across most protests that erupted in the country after the enactment of the citizenship law.
Critics of the law have stressed that the provision that grants citizenship on the basis of religion of the applicant violates the constitutional principles of equality and secularism. Many of them have also taken their battle against the citizenship law to the Supreme Court which has given the Centre four weeks to respond to the 160-odd petitions that have been filed.
Home Minister Amit Shah has made it clear that the government would not budge on the law. “We are not afraid of protests. In fact we were born amid protests, raised amid protests,” he told a rally in favour of the law in Lucknow.
At Thursday’s lecture, Mukherjee underlined the importance of consensus, describing it as the “lifeblood of democracy”.
“Democracy thrives on listening, deliberating, discussing, arguing, even dissenting,” the former President said.
“It is my firm belief that all these could be achieved because we fiercely upheld and maintained the sanctity and supremacy of elections and the electoral process,” he said.