NEW DELHI: With the BJP’s landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand providing the backdrop, President Pranab Mukherjee sought to underline the need of converting ‘Bahumat’ into ‘Sarvamat’ for the purpose of governance.
Asserting ‘’while electoral verdicts are determined on the basis of ‘Bahumat’ (majority), the states will be governed on the principle of ‘Sarvamat’ (consensus). This is indeed India’s tradition and what the large majority of our people desire to see’’, the President said, in his speech at the India Today Conclave in Mumbai.It was obviously a presidential advisory of sorts to the political parties, particularly the BJP which won an overwhelming majority in the state elections, not to pander to ‘majoritarian’ sentiments.
However, President Mukherjee remained equally critical of the disruptive practices adopted by the opposition in Parliament and the state assemblies.
The indication was that ‘consensus’ building was no one-way street. “Consultation and consensus is the best and often the only way forward,” he said, adding that in a parliamentary democracy, one ‘’must always guard against majoritarianism. Those in power must involve and take the entire nation along with them at all times.’’
Lest his intervention is seen in the context of a recent critique that the BJP won its massive mandate in UP without any representation from the minority community comprising 19 per cent of the electorate, President Mukherjee lauded the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s post victory speech.
Appreciating it, the President said: “I was extremely happy to hear Prime Minister Modi speak about the need for humility in the aftermath of his party’s victory in recent elections. The praise from the President also came as an endorsement of the PM’s view that for an all-around development of a state, it was necessary to take everyone along -- ‘Sabka Vikas’, in other words.
“One of the principal lessons India’s history teaches us is that united we stand, divided we fall,” the President exhorted, citing instances from India’s freedom struggle.
“It will be impossible for us to achieve the progress that we seek, if in our country man turns against man in the name of religion, caste or politics,” the President said.
In the wake of debates on social media about targeting individuals for having a different opinion, the President said, “Free speech and expression is not only guaranteed by our Constitution but has been an important characteristic of our civilisation.