Under attack over his comments about the Supreme Court and the Election Commission in London, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday said that he was “saddened” by the unfair manner in which his comments were reported to feed “an already frenzied and surcharged atmosphere” in the country.He also denied mocking any institution in the country.
Khurshid said he spoke for about 45 minutes to a largely academic audience and answered questions for another 15 minutes in his public lecture at SOAS in London on an important topic “Challenges before Indian Democracy”.
“As for the Supreme Court and the Election Commission I explicitly placed on record their ‘yeoman’ contribution to remarkable improvements in our electoral system and governance, particularly the integrity of the election process.
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“I conceded that the Courts have to step in where Parliament and Executive are unable to deliver as expected and referred to the judgements that explain this. However this is an area of serious debate in jurisprudence,” he said.
Khurshid said he had said in speech that there was need for institutional reflection on the rights and wrongs of placing the political aspirations of parties before the electorate and in that context said that it is necessary to be able to put in the manifesto expectations of the electorate since elections are contested to win and not lose.
“Please see the latest instructions on manifesto announcements read with instructions on roads and drinking water. It is one thing not to buy votes with freebies and handouts and quite another to support aspirations including developmental and welfare linked,” he said.’
The minister said university lectures were not government handouts but an attempt to analyse and engage in wholesome debate. “If these matters are not discussed at academic centres what is the point of accepting invitations,” he said.
“I did not mock. What I said is a serious concern if you are discussing issues about democracy,” he told reporters last night in London.
He had also said he has views that others may have or not. “My view is that instead of breaking the code of conduct, I want to talk about the code of conduct. Surely the code of conduct doesn’t say you can’t have a difference of opinion. I think SOAS is the right place to be talking about this,” he said.