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February 19, 2020
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India news NEW DELHI: The largely peaceful protests being held in the country would enable a deepening of India’s democratic roots, and the assertion of the youth and their belief in the Constitution was heartening to see, former President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Thursday. “The last few months have witnessed people come out on the streets in large numbers, particularly the young, to voice their views on issues which in their opinion are important,” Mukherjee said at a function organised by the Election Commission. “Democracy thrives on listening, deliberating, discussing, arguing and even dissent. I believe the present wave of largely peaceful protests that have gripped the country shall once again enable the further deepening of our democratic roots,” Mukherjee said. His remarks come in the wake of agitations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and NPR-NRC. Delivering the Sukumar Sen lecture instituted by the EC, Mukherjee said: “The Election Commission has served its purpose well and any attempt at its denigration will amount to denigrating the electoral process. People’s mandate is sacrosanct and its sanctity supreme. The onus of ensuring this lies with the EC. They must do so and put any speculation to rest.” People’s mandate must be above any iota of reasonable doubt, he said. The former President also took note of the challenges faced by the Indian electoral system and referred to the embargo on sanctioning and implementation of development projects once the election code of conduct kicked in and the disproportionately large size of the electorate vis-à-vis public representatives. He also said adequate representation of women in Parliament and state assemblies remained a major area of concern. “If democracy has succeeded, it is largely due to the perfect conduct of elections by all election commissioners starting from Sukumar Sen to the present election commissioners,” Mukherjee said. In his opening remarks, chief election commissioner Sunil Arora thanked Mukherjee, and said the objective of the lecture was to make a positive intervention in the democratic and electoral discourse, within the ambit of the constitutional mandate of the EC. “The EC wishes to involve a wide cross-section of people, including political parties, leading constitutionalists, legal luminaries, academicians, civil society activists in it,” Arora said.
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