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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 17.03.2017

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee said when our Legislatures cease to function effectively, the very basis of our democracy gets undermined. It is through the Parliament and our Legislative Assemblies that governments are held accountable to the people. If they become dysfunctional, it results not only in institutional paralysis but also has ripple effects across the system.

 The President was addressing the India Today Conclave 2017 in Mumbai today (March 17, 2017) as its Chief Guest on the topic "Such a Long Innings: Politics, Power, Office”.

The President said it is difficult for him to stand and watch Legislatures, one of the fundamental pillars of Indian democracy being rendered ineffective. In his view, there is absolutely no justification for constant disruption of proceedings, low level of attendance, shrinking in number of days that the Parliament and State Legislatures meet as well as the irresponsible manner in which important legislation, including the Budget and financial proposals, get passed with hardly any discussion.
The President said it is of benefit to both the Ruling Party and the Opposition to break this vicious cycle of disruptions and disorderly behaviour. He appealed to political leadership across the spectrum and across the country to arrive at an agreement that all protests and airing of grievances will be undertaken only in such manner that the functioning of our Parliament and Legislatures are not disrupted.

The President said the Constitution of India and the values and principles enshrined in it must at all times remain the lodestar. Constitutional provisions must be respected in letter and spirit by all of us, especially those in positions of authority and in public life. Executive action and legislation must indeed conform to the Constitution but going beyond that, day to day activities of political parties and all those associated with it must also conform to the Constitution and its provisions as interpreted by our judiciary. The tendency of individuals and groups taking the law into their own hands should be strongly resisted.

The President said one of the principal lessons India’s history teaches us is that united we stand, divided we fall. It will be impossible for us to achieve the progress that we seek, if in our country man turns against man in the name of religion, caste or politics. India has always celebrated diversity and debate. Free speech and expression is not only guaranteed by our Constitution but has been an important characteristic of our civilisation and tradition. Indians are known to be argumentative, but never intolerant.
The President said we must always guard against majoritarianism. Those in power must involve and take the entire nation along with them at all times. Consultation and consensus is the best and often, only way forward. The country also needs a strong Opposition standing guard.
This release issued at 1815 hrs.