In an apparent swipe at opposition parties over protests against the amended citizenship law, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said on Thursday that those who lost in “democratic process” converted the “streets into democratic forum” and indulged in violence. He asserted that Indian citizenship rules are “non-discriminatory” and allow outsiders to become citizens after different periods of stay here. He noted that the latest amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955, is for refugees who arrived in India by December 31, 2014.
Participating in a panel discussion in the Raisina Dialogue, Madhav made these remarks while responding to questions from the audience about the protests. He was also asked by a member of audience if India was moving towards “undemocratic democracy”.
Madhav said India has a vibrant and good Constitution, and “we are all wedded to it”. He added that Indian democracy will only progress further and mature. Referring to protests, some of which were marred by violence, he took a dig at opposition parties without naming them.
“You lose in democratic process and convert streets into democratic forum, indulge in violence and say the government is not listening. That is not the democratic spirit,” he said, adding the Narendra Modi government has faced the highest level of criticism.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed in the “most democratic manner” after thorough discussion in Parliament, the BJP leader asserted and stated that the government responded to criticism during debate.
“The government is duty-bound to respond to criticism sans violence,” Madhav said, adding those who have a different view should use the right forum in the right manner. “Getting depressed and claiming that Indian democracy is gong to the dogs, that you have to keep aside. In India, governments are changed at the drop of a hat. Nobody is permanent in a democracy,” he said.
During the panel discussion, Madhav said for a democracy to succeed it has to truly represent people and a particular culture has to be nurtured in the society. “Otherwise you give democracy to a given country, take it from me, Osama Bin Laden posthumously can become the president. You need to nurture a value system in that society,” he said.
The BJP general secretary also noted during the discussion that Hitler and Mussolini were “products of democracy” and added that democracies mature over time. Democracy also needs many institutions in place to succeed, Madhav said, adding that in India “democratic institutions for millennia at the societal level have nurtured democratic spirit”.
Madhav said India has always promoted democratic values in the region and supported people’s right to uphold democratic values. He, however, added that democracy should not be used as a “political stick or political weapon” to use against any particular country.