The Hindu

Intoleranc­e damaging country’s political system, says Somnath

- SOUMYA DAS

KOLKATA: Describing the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as the “builder of democratic institutio­ns” the former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Saturday voiced his concerns over the “spread of confrontat­ional politics” hindering democratic institutio­ns such as Parliament from properly dischargin­g its functions.

Speaking at a seminar on the legacy of Pandit Nehru that was organised by the State Congress Mr. Chatterjej­ee said that the “growing intoleranc­e” was damaging the country’s social and political system.

“We must be worried because of the competitiv­e and confrontat­ional politics that has overtaken the country today our institutio­ns like the Parliament cannot appropriat­ely discharge its essential functions,” said Mr. Chatterjee. The seminar was titled ‘Jawaharlal Nehru and Modern India: Contributi­on and Legacy’.

He said that the “pluralisti­c” India for which democracy was dimmed to be the most suitable form of governance by Pandit Nehru was now witnessing “intoleranc­e, divisivene­ss, corruption and disrespect for dissent.”

“We need to seriously address the issues of corruption, communalis­ation and criminalis­ation of politics,” said Mr. Chatterjee.

Noted rights activist Teesta Setalvad criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre for following “extreme right wing” economic policies. She accused the Centre and the RSS of not believing in the Constituti­on and said that the “democratic base” of the country was under a “fascist attack.” Not only did she accuse the RSS of using the social media for spreading its “propaganda” but also urged the youth to come forward in countering the RSS.

K. Mohan Gopal, director of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contempora­ry studies, said that the economic liberalisa­tion initiated by the party in the 1990s resulted in the significan­tly reducing the space for social democratic parties. He emphasised on bringing back the “mixed economy” and on having an “efficient public sector” as “solely profit oriented” economy is not suitable for a country of “wide disparity.”

The seminar also brought the State leaders the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front along with the CPI(ML) Liberation, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (United) along with sidelined Trinamool Congress (TMC) Mukul Roy and expelled CPI-M leader Abdur Rezzak Molla on the same dais. State Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that keeping with the “democratic” idols of Pandit Nehru there a “united protest” should be initiated against the “political intoleranc­e” of TMC.

 ??  ?? Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee sharing a lighter moment with West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in Kolkata on Saturday.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee sharing a lighter moment with West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in Kolkata on Saturday.

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