Armed forces must remain 'uncontaminated' from sectarian appeal: Manmohan

Talking about the importance of the Election Commission in India''s democratic framework, Singh said it must ensure that religion, religious sentiments and prejudices do not get worked into election discourse.

PTI
New Delhi, Publish Date: Sep 26 2018 12:00AM | Updated Date: Sep 26 2018 12:00AM
Armed forces must remain 'uncontaminated' from sectarian appeal: ManmohanFile Photo

The armed forces are a splendid embodiment of the country's "secular project" and it is vitally important that they remain "uncontaminated" from any sectarian appeal, former prime ministerManmohan Singh said Tuesday.

The senior Congress leader also said the judiciary should not lose sight of its primary duty to protect the secular spirit of the Constitution as the task has become much more demanding with political disputes and electoral battles turning out to be increasingly over-laced with religious overtones and prejudices.

"The judiciary needs to arrive at its own enlightened view of its custodianship of the Constitution-irrespective of the irresponsible and selfish politicians who have no qualms in injecting communal virus in our body politic," he said while delivering the second A B Bardhan memorial lecture here.

Talking about the importance of the Election Commission in India's democratic framework, Singh said it must ensure that religion, religious sentiments and prejudices do not get worked into election discourse. 

"As the custodian of the integrity of the electoral process, it is incumbent upon the Election Commission to see to it that religion and religious sentiments and prejudices do not get worked into the election discourse," he said. 

"The Commission must be thinking of rolling back the easy acceptance of over-manipulation of religious imagery," the senior Congress leader said.

Singh hailed the armed forces, saying that they were a splendid embodiment of India's secular project and have a glorious record of keeping away from the "politicians' manipulations and intrigues".

"It is vitally important that the armed forces remain uncontaminated from any sectarian appeal," he said.

Terming the demolition of the Babri Masjid as a "traumatic event" that brought India's secular commitments into "disrepute", Singh noted that the entire political leadership came in for criticism for failing to protect a place of worship.

"In particular, concerned citizens were deeply disappointed at the judiciary's stance in the events leading up to the demolition. December 6, 1992 was a sad day for our secular republic," the former prime minister said.

He also forcefully stated that any attempt to weaken the secular fabric of India would be an attempt to dismantle the larger egalitarian project -- a secular, progressive and democratic polity. 

He said the onus of preserving the country's secular robustness of rests on all constitutional institutions.

Singh said the media is an equal partner in upholding secularism.

"Above all, it is the duty of the political parties to keep on educating, enlisting and mobilising our citizens in the cause of secular values and practices as the highest republic virtues, so centrally located in our Constitution," he said. 

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