Speaks at special discussion held to celebrate B R Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary
GN Staff | November 27, 2015
In a mellowed tone that reflected the reality of current political situation, prime minister Narendra Modi today said that consensus was a democracy’s greatest strength and cooperation empowered it, not majority and minority vote
During a special discussion on the Constitution in the lok sabha, Modi said that it is the demand of time that we make people aware of the sanctity and strength of our Constitution. He said that “India first” was the government’s only religion while the Constitution was its scripture.
Modi’s voice was measured and wasn’t as fierce as in his previous parliament speeches, and contrary to speculation, he skipped the ‘intolerance debate’, an issue recently raised by actor Aamir Khan.
Modi’s consensus talk comes in the wake of the government’s willingness to engage the opposition on the pending bills in the parliament. The month-long winter session is expected to see fireworks with the government determined to push through its ambitious legislative agenda of 38 bills – including the landmark goods and services tax reform.
But opposition parties are adamant on discussing a wide range of subjects like drought, price rise, declining industrial production and exports and especially use the growing chorus over rising intolerance to corner the government. Recent weeks have seen intense back-channel negotiations with several rounds of meetings between top leaders and exhortations by the Speaker to let the House run without disruptions.
The special sitting was on commitment to the constitution as part of 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the chief architect of the constitution.
“26 November (Constitution Day) celebration doesn’t reduce the importance of 26 January... Our constitution has dignity for Indian and unity for India,” Modi said in his speech. “Man cannot be immortal but constitution has to be,” he said quoting a framer of the American constitution.
He praised Jawaharlal Nehru for his greatness and congratulated Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for her speech on the Constitution.
He said India was a diverse nation and the Constitution held the power to bind all its citizens. “Maintaining the sanctity of Constitution is the responsibility” he said.
Highlighting the importance of a healthy discussion in parliament, Modi said the spirit of discussion in the Lok Sabha is “us” and not “me” or “you”.
Modi thanked everyone present in the House for the interest shown during the debate on the Constitution. He himself had sat through the debate, yesterday and today.
“Some people have this wrong idea, maybe out of habit, that prime minister will respond to everything in the end. But I am speaking now, expressing my views, just as any other person here did,” he said.
Following are the highlights of the speech:
Respected Madam Speaker, you conducted this debate in a manner that was as per the Constitution. I thank you for that.
The interest that was displayed in this debate was exemplary.
The spirit of this (Constitution) debate is not 'you' or 'I', but it is 'we'.
It is the demand of time that we make people aware of the sanctity and strength of our Constitution.
It is the government's thinking, we want to take this arrangement forward.
Marking November 26 as Constitution Day is not to undermine January 26 (Republic Day).
I had said from Red Fort earlier, and once in the House. I don't remember if any PM said the same thing from Red Fort. I had said that all governments and PMs have contributed to the nation.
I said the same thing in the House and I say it again. This country has grown and developed due to contribution of everyone.
This nation is made by so many people, all the governments.
This country was not made by princes and kings, but by the people of India.
If I say in easy language, our Constitution means 'Dignity for Indian' and 'Unity for India'.
It must have been difficult to form a Constitution for a nation as diverse as India.
If Constitution simply becomes a document to be followed by the government and as a tool of governance, then democracy will suffer, then it will limit the real strength Constitution. That is the reason it (Constitution) needs to reach the roots.
To strengthen our democracy, it is important for people to know about the all aspects of our Constitution.
From political establishment to those in opposition, everyone quotes Babasaheb Ambedkar. Every school of thought stands by what he said. Such is his greatness.
Son of a Dalit mother, Babasaheb was insulted and ignored at every step of his life. But when the same person got the chance to make the future of India, there was no bitterness in him and it did not reflect in the Constitution as well.
If he was like us, he could have shown animosity to the country. But he didn't. He drank all the poison and left amrit for us.
In a democracy, consensus is what gives the greatest strength.
We must not forget that in a democracy, we work towards welfare of the individual as well as the collective.
There is an 'autopilot arrangement' that has helped our society to weed out evil practices.
No one can think of changing the Constitution. If they do, I believe it is like suicide.
Our focus must be on how our Constitution can help the Dalits, the marginalised and the poor.
Grievance redressal systems give strength to a democracy.
I would like to talk about idea of India, which is Satyamev Jayate; idea of India is Ahimsa Paramo Dharma; idea of India is Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, Sarve santu niramayah, Sarve bhadrani pasyantu, Ma kashchit duhkha bhagbhavet.
Fire on the Ganges: Life among the Dead in Banaras By Radhika Iyengar 4th Estate / HarperCollins, 348 pages, 599
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