World Media

Democracy can become tyranny sans criticism: Ansari

Vice President Hamid Ansari

'There is no better country than India for Muslims and no better friend than Hindus, ' said Shahnawaz Hussain, a leader of BJP, a right-wing nationalist formation linked to those sectors by the opposition. The party leaders said such comments did not suit his office's dignity.

The outgoing VP also said that he has shared his concerns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues.

Mr Ansari had previously served as India's ambassador to several countries and was India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

"I condemn his comments". He also said that the 17.2 crore Muslims (2011 census) in the country constituting 14.2 percent of India's total population are living with a "feeling of unease" and "a sense of insecurity is creeping in" among them.

Quoting India's first Vice President S. Radhakrishnan, outgoing Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari on Thursday warned that a democracy was likely to degenerate into tyranny if the opposition was not allowed to "criticise fairly, freely and frankly". He said the agenda should be the development of the country.

In the interview, Ansari also spoke about incidents of lynching and "ghar wapsi" and killings of rationalists as a "breakdown of Indian values".

Ansari has been in the firing line of the other BJP leaders for his "Muslim comments".

He said the courts do not have to step in as the reform has to come from within the community. "The chair is just an umpire in cricket and its only source of reference is the Rule Book", said Ansari in his parting shot as he recited Urdu couplets and bid adieu amid a standing ovation from all members.

"I confess I had no difficulty in benefitting from this eminently sensible counsel", Ansari said. "The religious requirement is crystal clear, emphatic, there are no two views about it but patriarchy, social customs has all crept into it to create a situation which is highly undesirable". I mean the whole idea was that what are the challenges today.

Tiruchi Selva, a DMK MP from Tamil Nadu, said while Ansari was being praised for his various attributes as a politician, as a Chairman, as a sportsman, he as an individual wanted to say thank you as "we have learned a lot from you".