As President Pratibha Patil on Sunday underlined that solutions to peoples problems had to be found through discussions in Parliament,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh struck a more strident note vis-a-vis civil society activists and said that the country must reject those who mocked institutions of democracy. They were speaking at a grand function held in the Central Hall to mark the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament.
Discussions can be difficult and divergent,yet solutions have to be found through discussions in Parliament and resolved through established parliamentary practices, the President said. Parliament is the repository of the will of people, she stressed and added,peoples growing aspirations and expectations need to be translated here into policy decisions and necessary legislation.
Indian democracy,the President told the gathering,cannot be allowed to falter at a time when democracies of the world are operating in complex situations,including fractured mandates and explosion of the media. She said,Democracy can survive,flourish and grow when there is respect for all stakeholders,and for differing opinions,and where institutions of democracy are functioning in harmony in general.
The PM was more pointed and candid. We should firmly reject those who would mock the institutions of our democracy that have developed over decades of experience, he said in an obvious reference to members of Team Anna,who have repeatedly attacked and ridiculed members of Parliament. We are not a perfect democracy, he agreed,but maintained,we are a functioning democracy with mechanisms and safeguards that allow for the reconciliation of diverse interests and differences.
Having said this,the PM turned towards the malaise which Parliament suffers from. I know that many people often feel frustrated by the disruption of Parliament, he confessed. He told the MPs: In our own way,each one of us shares the blame for this state of affairs. Our Parliament stands as a unique representation of the values that created our Republic. How we conduct ourselves,how Parliament conducts itself,is therefore,a way of showing respect to these values and to the memory of those who created and built this symbol of freedom and dignity.
Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari also touched the same issues.
The day-long proceedings implied a personal success for Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar,who had conceived the idea of organising 60 th anniversary celebrations.
Former President A P J Abdul Kalam surprised everybody by showing up at the function. Two predecessors of Kumar,Somnath Chatterjee and P A Sangma,were seated in the front row.
The dignitaries came down the podium to felicitate four members of the first Lok Sabha Rishang Keishing (who is now a member of the Rajya Sabha),Reshamlal Jangde (Chhattisgarh),Kandala Subramaniam and K Mohan Rao (both from Andhra Pradesh). Two of them,who faced difficulty while walking,were wheeled in to the Central Hall.
The President released publications and commemorative coins were also released.