Prez Pranab's veiled attack on AAP: 'Populist anarchy' can't be a substitute for governance

With the 2014 Lok Sabha elections inching closer and exit polls predicting a hung verdict, President Pranab Mukherjee asserted a fractured mandate was always an 'unhappy eventuality'. An election of contrasts to celebrate the Republic

Updated on Jan 26, 2014 09:01 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondent and Agencies, New Delhi

Calling for a stable government in the country, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said 'populist anarchy' was not a substitute for good governance.

With the 2014 Lok Sabha elections inching closer and exit polls predicting a hung verdict, Mukherjee asserted a fractured mandate was always an "unhappy eventuality".

"It is the physician that heals itself and 2014 must become a year of healing after the fractured and contentious politics of the last few years," he added.

Addressing the nation on the eve of the 65th Republic Day, he said the rise of hypocrisy in public life was dangerous and "elections did not give any person the license to flirt with illusions".

Read: Full text of the President's speech

Read: An election of contrasts to celebrate the Republic

"Those who seek the trust of voters must promise only what is possible. Government is not a charity shop.

"Populist anarchy cannot be a substitute for governance. False promises lead to disillusionment, which gives birth to rage, and that rage has one legitimate target: those in power," he said.

Media reports interpreted Mukherjee's statement as a veiled attack on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The rookie party had held a chaotic demonstration recently — during which Kejriwal had declared "I'm an anarchist". Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues had protested outside Rail Bhavan, defying prohibitory orders and demanding action against four officials of the Delhi Police, who are under the Union home ministry. The stir was called off after two policemen were sent on leave.

Read: Govt not a charity shop, says President Pranab; condemns hypocrisy in public life

Mukherjee also said governments must deliver what they were elected to deliver: social and economic progress — not at a snail's pace but with the speed of a racehorse.

He added those in politics should understand that every election comes with a warning sign: perform or perish.

"We do feel angry, and rightly so, when we see democratic institutions being weakened by complacency and incompetence."

Mukherjee also said corruption was a cancer that eroded democracy. "If Indians are enraged, it is because they are witnessing corruption and waste of national resources. If governments do not remove these flaws, voters will remove governments."

Read: Nothing unconstitutional in CM holding dharna: Kejriwal

Read:Will agitate again if needed: Delhi CM Kejriwal

The President praised the security forces for their services in defending the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation, asserting any attempt by communal forces and terrorists to destabilise the harmony of the Indian people would be countered and neutralised aggressively.

Mukherjee also said India has the intellectual prowess, the human resources and financial capital to shape a glorious future. "Give the youth jobs and they will raise the villages and cities to 21st century standards. Give them a chance and you will marvel at the India they can create."

Calling for improvement in the quality of education being imparted, the President said, "Education has been an inseparable part of the Indian experience. I am not talking only of the ancient institutions of excellence like Takshashila or Nalanda, but of an age as recent as the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, our higher educational infrastructure consists of over 650 universities and 33,000 colleges."

As discussions over Telangana continue, Mukherjee said passions were rising over whether there should be smaller states, but the debate should conform to democratic norms.

"A democratic nation is always involved in argument with itself. This is welcome, for we solve problems through discussion and consent, not force."

(With PTI, IANS, ANI inputs)

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