Voices of dissent being muzzled, fear prevails: Oppn to Prez

New Delhi: Major opposition par¬ties met President Pranab Mukher¬jee on Wednesday and put forth their concerns over recent inci¬dents of violence, including attacks by cow vigilantes, and attempts to “muzzle voices of dissent”.
A delegation of leaders of vari¬ous political parties, led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gan¬dhi, called on the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and sought his urgent intervention “to ensure the rule of law” in the country.
They presented a memorandum to him listing their various con¬cerns and urged the President to ensure that constitutional democ¬racy and fundamental rights of citizens are protected.
Leaders of prominent opposi¬tion parties including the Con¬gress, the Left parties, TMC, SP, BSP, JD-U and the RJD were part of the delegation. After the delega¬tion met the President, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Gh¬ulam Nabi Azad said, “An environ¬ment of fear and insecurity is pre¬vailing in the country and voices of dissent are being muzzled.”
“We have requested the Presi¬dent for his urgent intervention to protect India’s constitutional de¬mocracy and safeguard the funda¬mental rights of citizens to ensure the rule of law in this country,” he told reporters. The delegation also raised issues of alleged EVM tam¬pering during their meeting.
Azad said the delegation drew the attention of the President to the recent political developments which have “seriously undermined the accepted norms of governance and institutional integrity”.
He said an environment of fear and insecurity is prevailing in the country and voices of dissent are being muzzled. “In a democracy, the rule of law must prevail, but self- styled lumpen elements have in¬dulged in violence, mob lynching of citizens and harassment is being wit¬nessed across the country,” he said.
He cited recent incidents of lynching of a dairy farmer in Al¬war in Rajasthan and similar in¬cidents in Una in Gujarat, Dadri in Uttar Pradesh and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, besides many others across the country.
The delegation also raised the is¬sue that critical appointments have been made “arbitrarily bypassing the Parliament and other institu¬tions”. They also alleged that key legislations are being “disguised” as Money Bills “to bypass and un¬dermine the Constitution position of Rajya Sabha”. Azad said the states ruled by non-BJP parties “are being destabilised by misusing the powers of Governors and artificial majority is cobbled up by unethical means” and recent examples of Goa and Ma¬nipur were cited in this regard.
“There has been an attack on cultural, academic and historical institutions, universities, espe¬cially Nalanda University and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Li¬brary,” he said.
“The continuous violence and failure of governance in Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of grave national concern,” he said.
Azad also added that all central agencies — the CBI, Income Tax and the Enforcement Directorate — are being used to harass leaders of polit¬ical parties, particularly chief min¬isters. “There has never been such harassment of chief ministers and leaders of political parties,” he said.
Besides Manmohan and Sonia, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma were part of the delegation.
The memorandum was also signed by Tariq Anwar (NCP), Satish Chandra Misra (BSP), Dharmendra Yadav and Neeraj Shekhar (SP), D Raja (CPI), Sita¬ram Yechury (CPI-M), Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Kalyan Banerjee (TMC), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), V Elangovan (DMK) and others.