Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday accused the Centre of destroying India’s democratic institutions and said the country is turning into an “electoral dictatorship”.
He also took an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said there has been talk of only one person in the last 10 years and that the country now needs an alternative leadership that will understand people’s needs and find solutions to their problems.
Mr Tharoor, also an author, made the remarks during a discussion on the book titled “Audacious Hope: How to Save a Democracy” by Indrajit Roy, at the 17th Jaipur Literature Festival here.
“We have a parliamentary system which is run by the President. And we should remember the Congress’ slogan of 2014 — ‘Not I, We’,” the Congress leader said.
“However, we have heard a lot of I, my, myself in the last 10 years. There has been talk of only one person,” he said without taking any name.
Mr Tharoor said the antidote of this “I” is to create a different kind of leadership, which does not just boast about itself, but “listens to you with complete humility, talks about you, understands your needs and addresses them”.
He said that democracy is facing a “real crisis” today.
He appealed to the youth to use their franchise extensively in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and said “ultimately only your vote matters. Your future is in your hands”.
He also said that India is a strong and mature democracy.
On a question that the INDIA bloc could not agree on a single name to counter PM Modi in the parliamentary polls, Mr Tharoor said, “Vote for the opposition alliance, and then we will answer this question.” On the announcement by the Trinamool Congress to go alone in polls in West Bengal, he said, “The fact is that many political parties are involved in it (INDIA bloc). No single formula can be applicable to all…each state has its own politics. There are some states where we agree with each other, some others where we do not agree with each other.” Attacking the BJP government, Mr Tharoor said that in the last six-seven decades, previous governments had strengthened various institutions for the smooth functioning of democracy, but today the autonomy of these institutions is being destroyed.
He said that under the guise of majority, the country is turning into an “electoral dictatorship” from an electoral democracy.
Referring to the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and other investigating agencies, Tharoor said that the Central government is “shamelessly” using them for vested interests.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)