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India Already Lost Two Prime Ministers When Dissent Became Disintegration, Says Venkaiah Naidu

Venkaiah Naidu's comments came in the backdrop of the stringent criticism levelled at the Narendra Modi government for its apparent curbing of political dissent with the arrest of five rights activists for their alleged links to Maoists.

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Updated:October 1, 2018, 11:03 PM IST
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India Already Lost Two Prime Ministers When Dissent Became Disintegration, Says Venkaiah Naidu
File photo of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu. (Getty Images)
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New Delhi: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said India has a democracy that allows everyone to express opinions, but warned that while dissent is welcome, disintegration will not be tolerated.

Delivering the JS Verma Memorial Lecture in the capital, he said such dissent is not recent. “The country had lost two of its former prime ministers (Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi) and cannot allow disintegration in the name of dissent. So, agree to disagree is the beauty of democracy," he said.

His comments came in the backdrop of the stringent criticism levelled at the Narendra Modi government for its apparent curbing of political dissent with the arrest of five rights activists for their alleged links to Maoists.

The Pune police, which conducted the raids on the activists, had claimed that they had uncovered that the five were part of a larger plot to assassinate the Prime Minister, a charge that has been rejected by the opposition as a ploy to garner sympathy.

Naidu also said that the government has tried to increase transparency in Parliament proceedings. "The decision to live telecast proceedings of the House was taken to improve things. Now it is for you to decide whether things have improved or worsened," the Vice President said.

Quoting former president Pranab Mukherjee, Naidu said, "We are to discuss, debate, decide and not disrupt. But then there will be no headlines if there is no disruption."

While elucidating on disruption during sessions, he added that often parliamentarians say that their parties instruct them to cause disruption, but in reality disruption only weakens democracy. "The MPs should come prepared to the House," he said.

Speaking about how media sometimes reports selectively, he recalled one of his earlier speeches on the floor of the House when he spoke on agriculture and Swaminathan Report for 54 minutes, but nobody carried that in the newspapers.

There was only one news, he recalled, which read, ‘Naidu spoke elaborately on agriculture’.

“As if agriculture is not news. This is not getting adequate coverage,” he said.

Naidu further went on to say that media is not interested in covering the migration of people from rural to urban areas.

In his speech he also said that the media should focus on pressing issues like malnutrition, agriculture and development.

“60% of the Indian population is under 35 and there is hunger for development. It is ignored, as if development is not news,” he said.

The Vice President said that the media should be in tune to the realities of our country and should not uphold “superstition”, as it has greater social responsibility towards the illiterate people in the country. “It is the Broadcasters responsibility to educate the rulers and create public opinion," Naidu added.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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