New Delhi: The Congress on Friday said it did not participate in the Constitution Day event in the Central Hall of Parliament in protest and to remind the country that the Constitution is not being respected and is being undermined instead.
A senior spokesperson of Congress Anand Sharma said the protest was against the “authoritarian” functioning of the BJP government as laws are enacted bypassing parliamentary scrutiny and parliamentary democracy is insulted.
“Our protest today is based on fundamental principles. We have protested to remind the country that the Constitution is not being respected, the Constitution is being undermined, parliamentary democracy is being undermined and insulted with the enactment of laws bypassing scrutiny which is creating enormous problems because each law enacted by Parliament impacts the masses,” he told reporters.
The Congress and several other parties, including the Left parties, TMC, NCP, DMK, Shiv Sena, IUML, RSP and the RJD, did not attend the Constitution Day event in Parliament’s Central Hall.
Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at family-run parties and said they are a danger to democracy as they go against the spirit of democracy.
Hitting back at the prime minister, Sharma said he wants to change history itself and obliterate the memory of those who sacrificed for the freedom of the country.
“The BJP had no role in the freedom struggle which Mahatma Gandhi led. All leaders were Congressmen. The BJP is seeking out these leaders. They know their ancestors had no role in the freedom struggle. Rather, they were complicit with the British who crushed the freedom movement,” he said.
The Congress leader said India has diversity and national and regional parties are there which work under India’s Constitution.
“The prime minister should introspect…. He should not give sermons to other parties. It would be better if the Election Commission continues to do its work,” he said, noting that democracy has strengthened since 1947 to 2014 when Modi became prime minister through free and fair elections.
“Had democracy been in danger, had Constitution not been respected, Modi could not have become PM in 2014 through a free and fair election…(It was) only because democracy had thrived and flourished in India,” he said.
The Congress leader said the criticism of the opposition by the prime minister and his colleagues is unwarranted.
“They need to reflect upon the manner in which they have conducted themselves and taken decisions. They owe an explanation why they have taken measures which are violative of the Constitution and even the directives on many issues of SC (Supreme Court) to evade transparency in governance and accountability of government to the Parliament,” he said.
Sharma said Congress has taken a conscious decision and have coordinated with like-minded parties who also collectively decided to oppose this authoritarian trend and functioning of the BJP government.
He alleged that the BJP is constantly assaulting constitutional principles and democratic character.
In a parliamentary democracy, the opposition has an important role and the Congress had boycotted two years ago when this day was observed as a government event in which the opposition had no role.
Noting that while the Congress honours the Constitution and respects the President, he said non-inclusion of leaders of opposition parties and a mere formal invite to sit in the event is not acceptable.
“The government should clarify how the government is being run. The government does not leave any opportunity whereby they crush democratic principles to make decisions,” he said, adding that key laws are made through ordinances, which need to be brought only when it becomes absolutely essential to bring them.
He alleged that laws made by the government have led to situations of instigation and chaos in society.
On the farm laws, Sharma said the Congress had suggested that there should be no haste and parliamentary principles should be followed by referring the bills to a committee for stakeholder consultation to arrive at a consensus.
But the government sidestepped the process which led to a year-long farmer agitation in which 700 farmers died.
Now the government has been forced to repeal, he said, adding that had the opposition been heeded to earlier, the country would not have seen such a disaster which was needless.
“We want to say there is still time to change their work styles, mindset. The government always takes decisions on parliament session eve to provoke tension,” he alleged.
The Congress leader alleged that the BJP is insulting the spirit of the Constitution.
“Our protest is also about the manner in which the government is conducting the state of affairs, enacting laws, decision-making, every single Constitutional institution is being subverted and law-making has become most undemocratic,” he said.
The government has now firmed up a dangerous trend to make laws through ordinance and ordinances are brought on those matters which are of critical importance to people, he said.
“These are flawed bills brought as ordinances and thereafter pushed through using the brute majority of the ruling party in brazen disregard of established parliamentary principles and practices which demand stakeholders’ consultations and reference of all major bills to parliamentary committees for scrutiny,” he said