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Letter to BS: Respect for dissent is an important pillar of democracy

It is disheartening to see such hostility in the campaign speeches. Debates and disagreements are natural

Business Standard 

Shivraj Singh Chauhan

This refers to the editorial “The ascent of civility” (December 16). During the campaign for the recent state elections and with the Lok Sabha polls due in a few months’ time, one saw and continues to see that the quality of public discourse has come down and it continues to slide further. It is disheartening to see such hostility in the campaign speeches. Debates and disagreements are natural. After all, there are two major political parties that are vying to woo the voters. The unfortunate truth is that the political arena has become another avenue for belittling others with innuendos and disparaging comments. We need to establish the climate for a healthy public discourse that befits the office these leaders hold or aim to hold. The focus and tone of the debates and the campaigns during the recent elections for the states had descended just too low. It is distressing to see the erosion of democratic norms and civility towards fellow citizens. At least, the post election speeches have changed.

With another major election looming on the horizon, we, the citizens of India, should be spared such toxic criticism. The political process will suffer enormously if there is no culture of tolerance and the important democratic tradition of respecting dissent is missing. Tolerance and respect for dissent is an important pillar of democracy. As the late Adlai Stevenson, a US senator, said: “The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.”

H N Ramakrishna Bengaluru


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First Published: Mon, December 17 2018. 21:31 IST
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