As pressure mounts on the government and BJP to rein in party leaders making provocative remarks in the wake of the lynching of a man in Dadri over rumours of beef consumption, President Pranab Mukherjee underlined Wednesday that diversity, tolerance and plurality are core values that have kept India together and must never wither away.
“We should not allow the core values of our civilisation to wither away. Over the years, our civilisation has celebrated diversity, plurality and promoted and advocated tolerance. These values have kept us together over the centuries,” Mukherjee said.
“Many ancient civilisations have collapsed but the Indian civilisation has survived because of its core civilisational values and adherence to them. If we keep them in mind, nothing can prevent our nation from forging ahead. Indian democracy is a marvel and we must celebrate, preserve and promote its strengths,” he said.
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He was speaking at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan where he was presented a coffee table book ‘The Nationalist President — Pranab Mukherjee’. The book, edited by Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director of The New Indian Express, was released by Vice President Hamid Ansari.
Others present at the function included Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his predecessor Sheila Dikshit, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.
The President spoke on years of coalition rule, and how only in the last Lok Sabha elections did the electorate give a decisive mandate just when it seemed that no single party would ever come to power.
“Despite their diversity and despite having a long period of absence of single-party majority, the Indian electorate decisively decided to make an end of that. Many of us thought that perhaps an era of coalition has been reached and that no single party will ever come (to power). In true sense, the marvel of Indian democracy has its own strength and we must celebrate that,” he said.
He spoke on how the country has come a long way since his own childhood when he walked 10 km to school and back everyday. He said much more needs to be done.
“In my own way, I am making my contribution to make the country more important… After three years of coming here, I recognise that much more is to be done. There is no end to work in the President’s office, which is considered strictly constitutional,” he said.
Hamid Ansari described the book as a small tribute to an eminent personality with vast experience and depth of understanding.
Rajnath Singh said that in the last five decades, Mukherjee dominated the political scene. He has been an eminent political leader and a consensus-builder, Singh said.