Outgoing Vice-President and chairman of Rajya Sabha Hamid Ansari on Thursday said democracy can transform into tyranny if people are stopped from making free and frank criticism of government policies. On his last day as the Vice President of India and the Upper House Chairman, Ansari mentioned that Rajya Sabha, which has been created by the Constitution, reflects the diversity of our nation.
Ansari in his farewell speech quoted former Vice-President S Radhakrishnan and said “a democracy is likely to degenerate into a tyranny if it does not allow the opposition groups to criticise fairly, freely and frankly the policies of the government”.
Ansari further added that, while the members “have every right to criticise, their right of criticism should not degenerate into wilful hampering and obstruction of the work of Parliament. All groups, therefore, have their rights and their responsibilities”. He also said that “a democracy is distinguished by the protection it gives to minorities. …. But at the same time the minorities have also their responsibilities”.
Commenting on the debates held in the Sabha, Ansari said, “This House is a creation of the Constitution and reflective of the wisdom and foresight of the founding fathers who wished it to portray India’s diversity and to be a calibrated restraint on hasty legislation. It has upheld democracy’s sacred creed that discussion, instead of being a stumbling block in the way of action, is in fact an indispensable preliminary to wise action. Deviations from this golden rule contribute neither to diligent policy making nor to our claim to be a mature democracy based on Rule of law.”
Ending his reign as the chairman of the Sabha, Ansari said he hopes that all sections of the House would seek to achieve this laudable objective, as the manner in which they conduct business is watched by the citizens with a discerning eye. Reflecting back on his 10-year-long term, he said a decade is a long time in the life of an individual. He also remembered how he was assisted by an eminent member of the House, which had benefitted him immensely.
A number of members appreciated Ansari’s way of leading the Sabha and also mentioned how they have learnt a lot from him.
with inputs from news agency PTI