Friday 18 August 2017 News Updated at 10:08 AM IST
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Modi mocks Ansari, marks a new low - Deccan Herald
Modi mocks Ansari, marks a new low
DH News Service, Bengaluru,
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In his convocation address at the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru, his interview with Rajya Sabha TV and his farewell speech in the Upper House before demitting office, the common refrain of former Vice President Hamid Ansari was the values of pluralism and diversity that have traditionally formed the bedrock of Indian nationalism. In Bengaluru, he underlined the need to reiterate and rejuvenate secularism's basic principles like equality, freedom of religion, and tolerance. In his TV interview, he referred to the growing sense of unease among the minorities and the Dalits and urged the government to do more to combat the violence being unleashed across the country by the votaries of aggressive majoritarian nationalism.

In his parting remarks in the Rajya Sabha, he pointed out that the House is a creation of the founding fathers of the Constitution that portrays India's diversity and quoted India's first vice-president S Radhakrishnan: "A democracy is distinguished by the protection it gives to minorities. A democracy is likely to degenerate into a tyranny if it does not allow the opposition groups to criticise freely and frankly the policies of the government."Unlike the run of the mill politicians, Ansari's tone and tenor were restrained. He was only reiterating the basic tenets of the Constitution. Everyone present in the Rajya Sabha, including Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded his tenure, though Modi's compliments were left-handed. Sheathing his attack behind words that appeared to convey his best wishes, he referred to Ansari's family ties with the Congress party and the Khilafat movement and implied that he had got used to working within a certain "circle" before being forced to adjust himself to the dictates of the Constitution while in the vice president's chair. "That must have made you restless, but from now on you are free to think and say what you really feel," was the Prime Minister's parting shot.

As if on cue, BJP leaders and their fellow travellers threw caution and propriety to the wind and unleashed a vicious attack. BJP general secretary, Kailash Vijayvargiya found his comments "petty" and accused him of seeking "political shelter" after his retirement. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad equated him with Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Even the new Vice President Venkaiah Naidu - who claimed he was no more a BJP man after his election - accused his predecessor of indulging in political propaganda. Ansari, whose tenure is matched by only that of S Radhakrishnan, is perhaps the only vice-president who received such a bitter farewell from a sitting government. No greater indictment of a ruling establishment's intolerance is possible.