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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Kapil Sibal: If you have all institutions in your pockets, how do you run a democracy?

Responding to a question from the audience on reservation in institutions for higher studies, Sibal batted for greater push for uplifting marginalised groups in the early stage of their lives so as to level the playing field for them.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
Updated: October 3, 2021 11:01:07 am
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal. (File)

Rajya Sabha MP from Congress and former union minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday emphasised that a multifarious country such as India can be run only “through conversations, reaching out, understanding other point of views before you decide what to do.”

Speaking at the second edition of Girish Patel memorial lecture and on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti at Ahmedabad, on the topic, ‘India in the age of Modi’, Sibal added that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to invoke MK Gandhi’s ideals, his actions have been on the contrary.

Stating that he was not saying this as a Congressman, Sibal said that the wealth of nations resided in universities, and not in industries and “If you control your education system, which we have done and we have been trying to do, you destroy the spirit of innovation and a nation can never be wealthy…That’s what Modi has done to India. That is what we (UPA governments) also did to some extent but it has gone to another level now. You have an RSS guy who is a vice-chancellor now. You control your governors.”

Responding to a question from the audience on reservation in institutions for higher studies, Sibal batted for greater push for uplifting marginalised groups in the early stage of their lives so as to level the playing field for them. “When it comes to the marginalised, do away with the 50 percent (reservation), 100 percent of schools should be opened only for them (the marginalised) so that they can come to a stage where they can compete (in professional exams).

Sibal, who visited the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram earlier in the day, said, “I realised the simplicity of the Ashram..The charkha represented aspiration, unity, self reliance…He (Gandhi) was spinning the charkha, and in the age of Modi, Modi spins the yarns, that’s the difference.”

He said that India is shaping up to be a country with the “economy of China, politics of Putin, and religious philosophy of Israel,” and to realise a “paradigm shift in politics” Sibal urged that a “fresh movement” needs to start where although “the rules of the (democratic) game have changed”, but one need not play by the changed rules. “Data is manipulated in this country…parameters of deciding on GDP and inflation are changed because they want to suggest to the country that ‘Look, GDP is doing well,’…You manipulate the Parliament, you manipulate the system, you have your own umpire,” he said.

“The Constitution represents the rule of the game and just as in cricket, you play by the rules of the game…there is a third umpire Election Commission of India, who never plays by the rules of the game…and if you have the umpire in the pocket, how do you play cricket?… And if you have all the institutions in your pockets, then how do you run a democracy?” the Congress leader said.

“You have the Parliament, the media, the ECI, courts, governors, investigating agencies, and other institutions are there to ensure that there’s a balance in a functional democracy. The change between 2014 and now is that that balance has been destroyed. The rules of the games have changed…Then people ask us that ‘the Congress party is not a good Opposition (party)’. How can we be the Opposition if they don’t play by the rules?,” asked Sibal.

Criticising the silencing tactic of the present government by use of sedition, UAPA in collusion with investigating agencies, Sibal stressed that “in a country like India where laws are misused in this fashion, the only safe harbor can’t be silence. If it is silence, then you are complicit…” Comparing India in the age of PM Modi, vis-a-vis India during the age of Gandhi, the former being “far removed” from the latter, Sibal said, “Gandhiji said that if you want to run a country, it can’t be run by 20 people at the centre. Modiji embraces Gandhi and yet two people at the centre run the country…”

 

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