Venkaiah counters Ansari remark on unease among minorities
Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari on Thursday said a democracy could degenerate into a tyranny if free and frank criticism of government policies was not allowed.
On the last day of his decade-long tenure as the Vice President of India and the Upper House Chairman, Ansari also stressed that Rajya Sabha was the creation of the Constitution that portrays Indian diversity.
In his farewell speech, he extensively quoted former Vice President S Radhakrishnan and said: "a democracy is likely to degenerate into a tyranny if it does not allow the opposition groups to criticise fairly, freely and frankly the policies of the government."
Ansari said while the members "have every right to criticise, their right of criticism should not degenerate into willful hampering and obstruction of the work of Parliament.
All groups, therefore, have their rights and their responsibilities".
He also said that "a democracy is distinguished by the protection it gives to minorities. .... But at the same time, the minorities have also their responsibilities."
Ansari, who has been instrumental in the decision that laws should not be passed amid din, said there should be a calibrated restraint on hasty legislation.
He said the Rajya Sabha upholds democracy's sacred creed that debate and discussion were not a stumbling block, but an indispensable preliminary to wise action.
Ansari said that the Chair was like an umpire in cricket or a referee in a hockey match, witnessing the play and the players but without becoming a player. "It's only source of reference is the book of rules," he said.
Meanwhile, Vice President-elect M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday rejected as "political propaganda" the view that there is a sense of insecurity among minorities in the country, apparently a rejoinder to outgoing Vice President Hamid Ansari.
Though Naidu did not name anyone, his comments are seen as a response to Ansari's remarks in a TV interview that there was unease and a sense of insecurity among Muslims in the country, and that "ambience of acceptance" is now under threat.
"Some people are saying minorities are insecure. It is a political propaganda. Compared to the entire world, minorities are more safe and secure in India and they get their due," Naidu said.
He also disagreed with the view that there is growing intolerance, saying Indian society is the most tolerant in the world because of its people and civilisation.
There is tolerance that is why democracy is so successful, he said.
The former BJP president also cautioned against creating a divide in the nation by singling out one community, saying it will draw an adverse reaction from other communities.
"If you single out one community, other communities will take it otherwise. That is why we say all are equal.
Appeasement for none justice for all," the 68-year-leader and former Union minister said.
Ansari's remarks come against the backdrop of incidents of alleged intolerance and violence by self-proclaimed cow protectors, for which opposition parties have attacked the central government.
Asked about incidents of alleged intolerance, Naidu said India is a huge country and there could be some "stray" occurrences, which are "nothing but aberrations".