The South Asian Times

17 January 2019 17:09 PM

Firmly Reject Those Mocking Democratic Institutions: PM

New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday asked the people to "firmly reject" those who mock at democratic institutions, even as he admitted India was not a "perfect democracy".

Addressing an event at the central hall of parliament to mark the 60th anniversary of its first sitting on May 13, 1952, Singh said though India is not a "perfect democracy", it is a "functioning democracy" with mechanisms and safeguards that allow reconciliation of diverse views and opinions.

"We should firmly reject those who would mock the institutions of our democracy that have developed over decades of experience," the prime minister said, without naming civil society members such as Anna Hazare, his team of activists, and others like yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who have been campaigning against corrupt politicians.

"We are not a perfect democracy. But we are a functioning democracy with mechanisms and safeguards that allow for the reconciliation of diverse interests and differences," he said.

It was the "vitality and vibrancy" of Indian democracy that kept the nation united and moved it along the path of progress, Singh noted, addressing MPs from both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, in the presence of President Pratibha Patil, former president Abdul Kalam, Vice President Hamid Ansari, and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

"I know that many people often feel frustrated by the disruption of parliament. In our own way each one of us shares the blame for this state of affairs.

"However, we are proud of the fact that both houses of parliament have often burnt the proverbial midnight oil to discuss and debate some of the most important issues that concern the people of Indian and the world," he said.

The prime minister, though, lamented that "unfortunately the number of serious discussions in parliament has declined in recent years".

Earlier, speaking in the Lok Sabha, Singh urged MPs to do some introspection because their conduct was creating a sense of "frustration and disillusionment" among the people.

"The manner in which we have conducted our affairs...has created a sense of frustration and disillusionment among the people," he said.

Ruminating the frequent disruptions in the houses that blocked many key legislations and also led to hundreds of business hours being wasted every time parliament was in session, Singh said, "The daily routine of disruptions, adjournments and shouting in the house are leading many to question the efficacy of this institution."

He urged MPs to think over their conduct "as we look ahead, this occasion should also become the moment for some candid and serious introspection".

"What the constitution envisioned, parliament translated into action...But this is an unfinished agenda," he said, ­adding that more needed to done by lawmakers to realise the dreams of the framers of the constitution.

In the Rajya Sabha, to where he belongs as a member from Assam, Singh said India's unflinching commitment to democracy is the reason behind India's growing global stature.

"One of the reasons for our growing global stature in the world is our unflinching commitment to pursuing the democratic path to achieving social and economic salvation," the prime minister said.

"India have repeatedly reposed their faith in the democracy. In recent years, they are making their voice heard more forcefully by voting in higher numbers in parliamentary, state assembly and panchayat elections," he said.

Saying the upper house has justified the two house system, the prime minister also stressed on restoring the decorum that is "expected from the house of elders".

"It is not to say that we should not reflect the concern and the regrettable unwillingness on occasions to engage in the discussions," he said.


Update: 15 May, 2012