One has the “right to disagree” in a democracy, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said Monday, stressing on the need to not just respect Opposition voices but also make them a part of the decision-making process.
Birla made the remarks at the inaugural event of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s (CPA) Youth Parliament in the Delhi Assembly. Earlier in the day, the Lok Sabha witnessed protests over Birla’s decision to marshal out Congress MPs protesting in the well of the House over the Maharashtra government issue.
Birla, who was the chief guest at the Assembly event, said dialogue, debate and discussions were the pillars on which democracy stands: “Every party and stakeholder in a democratic system has the right to voice their views in this temple of democracy… More importantly, one has the right to disagree in a democracy. So, Opposition voices should be given a patient hearing and their disagreements treated with respect. The success of democracy hinges on this spirit.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel and CPA Chairperson Emilia Monjow Lifaka, who is the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Cameroon, also addressed the 49 delegates representing 24 countries.
Kejriwal urged delegates to explore the need for democratic systems to evolve and become more direct in nature, moving away from indirect forms of democracy: “People elect their representatives once every five years… they have little direct say in governance… I would like to put this question before you, that when you attend this program in the next two-three days, do keep this in mind that can democracy evolve to a stage where we have some kind of direct form of democracy… where in the next five years of electing a representative, people can have some kind of direct control over the representatives..”
A Delhi government source said the event saw no participants from around 15 countries, including Pakistan, which are members of the Commonwealth. “Candidates are selected by CPA headquarters at London. We are not sure why there has been no participation from these countries. We had extended invites to all Commonwealth countries,” said the official.
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