A day after outgoing Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari
said that there was unease and a sense of insecurity among Muslims in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on Thursday said he (Ansari) would be free to pursue his "core thinking" once he demits office.
As reported earlier
, on the last day of his 10-year tenure as the Vice-President
of India, Ansari was pilloried on social media by Sangh Parivar affiliates for his comment that there was unease among minorities as the “ambience of acceptance” was now under threat.
In Parliament, when the Rajya Sabha sat on Thursday morning to bid adieu to Ansari, Prime Minister Modi said Ansari’s diplomatic stint in West Asia had an influence on him. He said Ansari could freely pursue his “basic ideology” now after shedding Constitutional duties.
What Ansari said
As reported earlier
, in an interview to the Rajya Sabha TV on Wednesday, Ansari had spoken on a range of issues, including the insecurity that the minorities in India felt in the current atmosphere.
During the interview, when asked about incidents of lynchings, cow vigilante attacks, and the Love Jihad and Ghar Wapsi campaigns, Ansari said: "Breakdown of Indian values, breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work and over all the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought." (Read the full interview here
When he was asked why these Indian values were breaking down suddenly, Ansari responded: "Because we are a plural society that for centuries, not for seventy years, has lived in a certain ambience of acceptance." The outgoing Vice-President
added that this "ambience of acceptance" was now "under threat".
On Thursday, in his speech as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Ansari said a democracy could degenerate into a tyranny if free and frank criticism of government policies was not allowed. At a time when some politicians and columnists have questioned the relevance of the Upper House, the 80-year-old former diplomat said the Council of States upheld democracy's sacred creed that debate and discussion were not a stumbling block but an indispensable preliminary to wise action. He said the Rajya Sabha portrayed the diversity of India.
What PM Modi said
In his remarks in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, where Ansari was given a farewell on his last day in office, Modi hailed his role in the past 10 years and said Ansari had tried his best to live up to it.
Modi recalled Ansari's diplomatic career, during which, he spent many years in West Asia, and his role, after retirement, as the vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University and as the chairman of Minorities Commission.
"Many years of your life were spent in that circle. You stayed in that atmosphere, with that thinking and debating with those people. After retirement your engagement mostly remained the same," Modi said, adding, "...But in the last 10 years, you had a different responsibility. Every moment was spent in the ambit of Constitution and running it (Rajya Sabha). You tried your best to run it."
"Maybe there was some uneasiness within you. But from now onwards, you will not face that difficulty. You will also feel free and work, think and speak according to your core thinking," said the Prime Minister.
Vice-President-elect M Venkaiah Naidu
on Thursday rejected as "political propaganda" the view that there is a sense of insecurity among minorities in the country, apparently a rejoinder to outgoing Vice-President
Though Naidu did not name anyone, his comments are seen as a response to Ansari's remarks in a TV interview that there was unease and a sense of insecurity among Muslims in the country, and that "ambience of acceptance" is now under threat.
"Some people are saying minorities are insecure. It is a political propaganda. Compared to the entire world, minorities are more safe and secure in India and they get their due," Naidu told PTI.
As reported earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya
“condemned” Ansari’s “petty” comments. “It seems he is making such comments to find political shelter after retirement,” Vijayvargiya said.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) said Ansari had insulted the Vice-President’s post, the government, and the entire Hindu community. VHP’s Surendra Jain went as far as equating Ansari, who comes from a family of freedom fighters and has been a career diplomat, to Muhammad Ali Jinnah.