POLITICS

'Voices Of Dissent Are Being Thwarted': Opposition Seeks The President's Urgent Intervention

The Opposition also alleged that key legislations were being "disguised" as Money Bills "to bypass and undermine Rajya Sabha".

13/04/2017 8:58 AM IST | Updated 13/04/2017 8:58 AM IST
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Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad , Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh along with Opposition parties leaders address media after meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan on 12 April 2017.

NEW DELHI -- Major opposition parties today raised their concern with President Pranab Mukherjee over recent incidents of violence, including attacks by cow vigilantes, and alleged that an atmosphere of fear prevails with attempts being made to "muzzle voices of dissent".

A delegation of leaders of various political parties, led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, called on the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and sought his urgent intervention "to ensure the rule of law" in the country.

They presented a memorandum to him listing their various concerns and urged the President to ensure that constitutional democracy and fundamental rights of citizens are protected.

The issue of alleged EVM tampering, especially in recently-concluded elections, was also raised by them noting that it raises bonafide concerns on possibility of manipulating electoral outcomes.

Leaders of prominent opposition parties including the Congress, the Left parties, TMC, SP, BSP, JD-U and the RJD were part of the delegation.

After the delegation met the President, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "An environment of fear and insecurity is prevailing in the country and voices of dissent are being muzzled."

"We have requested the President for his urgent intervention to protect India's constitutional democracy and safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens to ensure the rule of law in this country," he told reporters.

The memorandum said, "It is imperative that the government addresses the crisis and creates a reassuring environment for people to participate in democratic process and caste their vote without intimidation and violence."

Azad said the delegation drew the attention of the President to the recent political developments which have "seriously undermined the accepted norms of governance and institutional integrity".

He alleged that an environment of fear and insecurity is prevailing in the country and voices of dissent are being muzzled.

The memorandum to the President says, "triggering false debates, manufacturing post-truths, orchestrating an inflammatory narrative on nationalism and exploiting religious sentiments, muzzling voices of dissent and threats of violence to the citizens, are vitiating the environment and jeopardising the cause of peace and security."

Azad said, "In a democracy, the rule of law must prevail, but self-styled lumpen elements masquerading as vigilantes, have indulged in violence, mob lynching of citizens and harassment is being witnessed across the country."

The memorandum noted that such incidents perpetrated to further a narrow agenda, have created an environment of harassment, violence and mob lynching of citizens, unacceptable in a constitutional democracy where the fundamental right to life and dignity must be ensured.

He cited the recent incidents of lynching of a dairy farmer in Alwar in Rajasthan and similar incidents in Una in Gujarat, Dadri in Uttar Pradesh and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, besides many others across the country.

"The above incidents underscore a calculated design to pull back India to medieval times and equate it with oppressive states and regimes where the citizens are oppressed," the memorandum said.

The delegation also alleged that critical appointments have been made "arbitrarily bypassing the Parliament and other institutions".

They also alleged that key legislations are being "disguised" as Money Bills "to bypass and undermine the constitutional position of Rajya Sabha".

Azad said the states ruled by non-BJP parties "are being destabilised by misusing the powers of Governors and artificial majority is cobbled up by unethical means" and recent examples of Goa and Manipur were cited in this regard.

"There has been an attack on cultural, academic and historical institutions, universities, especially Nalanda University and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library,"he said.

He also said that the continuous violence and "failure of governance" in Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of grave national concern.

Azad alleged that all central agencies -- the CBI, Income Tax and the Enforcement Directorate -- are being used to harass leaders of political parties, particularly chief ministers.

"There has never been such harassment of chief ministers and leaders of political parties," he said.

The memo said the last three years have contributed to the creation of an alarming situation never seen in this country.

Besides Manmohan and Sonia, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma were part of the delegation.

The memorandum was also signed by Tariq Anwar (NCP), Satish Chandra Misra (BSP), Dharmendra Yadav and Neeraj Shekhar (SP), D Raja (CPI), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Kalyan Banerjee (TMC), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), V Elangovan (DMK) among others.

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