PM terms dynastic parties from Kmr to Kanyakumari threat for democracy

TNN Bureau. Updated: 11/27/2021 10:56:53 AM Front Page

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday tore into the Congress and some other opposition parties saying India is heading towards a kind of crisis in the form of dynastic parties, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, that are run and controlled by the same family for generations to pose the" biggest threat" to a healthy democracy and a concern to people committed to the Constitution.
As the prime minister targeted the opposition parties over their boycott of the event to commemorate the Constitution day at the Central Hall of Parliament, President Ram Nath Kovind said all MPs, whether representing the ruling party or the opposition, are defenders of the dignity of Parliament and competition should not be confused with rivalry. A total of 14 opposition parties including the Congress, the TMC and the DMK gave the event a miss.
While President Kovind said there may be differences of opinion but no difference should be so great as to hinder the real purpose of public service, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, stressed that the Constitution requires the country to be a democratic republic and said legislatures should be guided by dialogue and debate and not be rendered dysfunctional through disruptions.
At another Constitution Day event organised by the Supreme Court in the evening, Modi said Constitution is the country's greatest strength to remove obstacles being created by a colonial mindset. He said India's growth story is being disrupted by forces of colonial mindset, including in the name of freedom of expression.
In his Central Hall speech, the prime minister said the "biggest threat" to the functioning of a healthy democracy is when a party is run by the same family generation after generation and the entire system of the party is controlled by it.
Without naming anyone, Modi described family-based parties as "party for the family, party by the family" and added, "I don't think I need to say anything more".
In an apparent reference to the Congress and some other Opposition parties, the prime minister said that in the form of family-based parties, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, India is heading towards a kind of a crisis, which is a matter of concern for the people committed to the Constitution and those who believe in democracy.
He said that more than one person from a family joining a party on the basis of merit and people's blessings does not make a party dynastic, "but 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".
The prime minister said the spirit of the Constitution and every section of it is hurt when political parties lose their democratic character.
"How can the parties which have lost their democratic character protect democracy?" he asked.
Besides the Congress, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Dravida MunnetraKazhagam (DMK), the other parties who skipped the event were Samajwadi Party (SP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen(AIMIM).
Along with the constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), parties like the Biju Janata Dal(BJD), the YSR Congress, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi(TRS), the Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) and the Telugu Desam Party(TDP) attended the event organised by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said the party did not participate to protest and to "remind" the country that the Constitution is not being respected and is being undermined instead. The boycott raised the political heat ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament starting next Monday.
Addressing the gathering, Modi said, "This event was not that of any government, or of any political party, or of any prime minister. The Speaker is the pride of the House. It is a dignified post. It is a matter of Babasaheb Ambedkar's dignity, the dignity of the Constitution."
Elaborating on the spirit behind celebrating Constitution Day, Modi said it was during the 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, "we all felt that what could be a greater auspicious occasion than the gift that Babasaheb Ambedkar had given to this country, we should always remember his contribution in the form of a memory book (Smriti Granth)".
Modi said opposition to marking the day was not just being shown now but when the government had decided to mark Constitution Day, even then it had met with criticism from some quarters.
But now the country is not ready to hear such a view when it is a matter concerning Babasaheb Ambedkar, he added.
"Today is the day to salute this House. Under the leadership of such stalwarts, after much churning and discussion, the nectar of our Constitution emerged."
Modi also emphasised that today is the day to bow to this House of democracy also.
He said Constitution Day should also be celebrated because our path should constantly be evaluated whether it is right or not.
In his address, President Kovind said the opposition is, in fact, 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. Our constitution makers had envisioned this and it is also necessary for nation-building, he added.
The president said that if MPs look at their responsibility as an extension of the ideals of the freedom struggle, they would remain mindful of their duty towards strengthening the legacy of the framers of the Constitution.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said he was "deeply hurt" over the oppostion boycott, saying it is not good for the health of democracy.
"This culture of boycotting non-partisan events, which are of national interest, is not good for the health of democracy," he told reporters after the event.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to say that justice and rights should be equal for all so that the Constitution does not become just a "paper". "It is the responsibility of all of us," Gandhi said in his greetings to the people of the country.

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