June 25, 2020 10:51:45 pm
Safeguarding the secular and democratic fabric of the country is as important as defending its borders, former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal Thursday said, adding the “country’s internal and external health are equally important and interdependent”.
In a statement on the 45th anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency, the Akali Dal patriarch said the commitment to democracy can “become meaningless without an equally profound commitment to the secular ethos” as enshrined in the Constitution. “Secularism is a prerequisite to democracy, and vice versa. Each ideal strengthens the other,” he said, stressing that their protection was as important as “defending borders”.
The five-time CM cautioned people against taking democracy and secularism for granted.
“It would be a mistake to believe that what happened in 1975 can never happen again. We saw then how easy it is for a dictatorial leader to trample on the constitution. Democracy is not a mere provision in the Constitution but an expression of the collective will, dreams, and aspirations of the people. The day the people’s will or their aspirations weaken, and that weakness gets reflected in the absence of vigil, then even the Constitution cannot prevent democracy and secularism from falling victims to the whims of dictators,” he said.
Badal, widely regarded as one of the key architects of popular resistance to the Emergency, said the federal structure in the country is vital for the health of our democracy.
“Democracy is not a single-tier structure. It functions at the individual and social levels through the universal voting right, but at the national and inter-state levels, a genuinely federal structure is the only guarantee for the meaningful working of our system for national prosperity and for turning India into a global superpower,” said Badal.
Emphasising the need for a constant vigil against “overt and covert” dictatorial tendencies that can always threaten democracy, Badal said, “Like our independence and sovereignty, secularism and democracy too have to be defended every moment of every single day in the life of our nation. Even a moment’s let-up can prove disastrous and even fatal,” he said.
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