Strongly supporting the right to dissent in a pluralistic country like India, Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari opined that any attempts to suppress dissent will diminish the “democratic essence”. These significant remarks by Vice President Ansari have come within days after he had strongly pitched for an affirmative action for the Muslims as a prerequisite to ensure the success of the incumbent government’s ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ vision.
Speaking at the first Ram Manohar Lohia Memorial National Lecture in Gwalior on Wednesday, VP Hamid Ansari said, “In a democratic society, including ours, the need to accept difference of opinion is an essential ingredient of plurality”.
“In that sense, the right of dissent also becomes the duty of dissent since tactics to suppress dissent tend to diminish the democratic essence,” the Vice President had added.
Vice President Hamid Ansari also emphasised that the expression of dissent plays a significant role in preventing serious mistakes arising out of what has been called “social cascades” and “group polarisation”, which act as deterrent to free expression of views or sharing of information.
He further added that the dissent as a right has been recognised by even the Supreme Court of India, where it had said that restrictions on dissent have to be “reasonable” and cannot be arbitrary, excessive or disproportionate.
“It has been observed with much justice that the history of progress of mankind is a history of informed dissent,” VP Ansari added.
“Nothing is more fatal for disagreements and dissent than the idea that all of it can be reduced to hidden sub-texts or external agendas… The idea that anyone who disagrees with my views must be the carrier of someone else’s subversive agenda is, in some ways, deeply anti-democratic,” the Vice President said further quoting one of the academicians in a reference to the reporting requirements for the NGOs introduced during the UPA rule in 2012.
Strongly applauding the late Socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia at the event, Vice President Ansari opined that preferential opportunities must be given to the underprivileged to deal with the caste system.
Earlier this month, Vice President Hamid Ansari’s statement demanding an affirmative action for the Muslims as a prerequisite for the success of the government’s ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ was widely welcomed by most of the political parties and several social groups. Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi too had backed the Vice President’s remarks even though some right-wing outfits had criticised it.
(With inputs from the PTI)