Violence has no place in Constitution: Ramnath Kovind

Thiruvananthapuram/Kasargod:   Violence has no place in the Constitution, President Ramnath Kovind said today, and voiced concern over the recurring political clashes in Kerala, even as the news of a CPI-M youth wing activist being stabbed to death allegedly by BJP-RSS cadre came to light.

Inaugurating the ‘Festival of Democracy,’ a conference to mark the conclusion of diamond jubilee celebrations of the Kerala Assembly in Thiruvananthapuram, Kovind said all parties and enlightened citizens should do their best to check political violence.

He said the history of “debate, mutual dignity and respect” for each other’s point of view has been the “hallmark” of Kerala society, prominently placing Malayalees among the thought leaders of the country.

“Nevertheless there remains the paradox of political violence in Kerala, especially in some regions of the state. This is unfortunate and does little justice to the glorious traditions of the state and its people.

“Debate, dissent and disagreement are perfectly acceptable and should be welcomed in our polity. But violence has no place in our Constitution,” he said.

Kovind’s remarks followed reports that a 25-year-old Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) worker, was attacked by two motorcycle-borne men in Kasargod district’s Uppala, about 600 km from Thiruvananthapuram, late last night. Siddique was rushed to a nearby hospital but could not be saved, a police official said.

Kerala’s ruling CPI-M’s state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan blamed the killing on the BJP-RSS combine. He said such “communal forces” should be identified and isolated by the society. The state’s BJP chief P S Sreedharan Pillai, however, rejected the allegation.

Several workers of the Left parties and those affiliated to the BJP and RSS have been killed in the state over the past few years, particularly in Kannur district. President Kovind said political violence should be a topic of discussion at the ‘Festival of Democracy’.

“The people of Kerala and the citizens of India deserve that we do serious thinking on the issue,” he said, adding politics, public life and the quality of democracy are a reflection of the essential ethos of a society.

Kerala’s social framework always encouraged debate and dialogue, which was also the way shown by reformers like Adi Shankaracharya, Sri Narayana Guru and Ayyankali.

He said there always was the motivation for discourse between people of various faiths and spiritual traditions, including Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and others who made Kerala among their earliest homes. “A person may believe in one faith or the other, or he or she may not believe in any faith at all. That is not important. What is important is the culture of educated and informed debate and of mutual accommodation that has been part of Kerala’s DNA continues to be preserved,” he said.

The president lauded the ‘Kerala model’ of development, right from the land reforms to panchayati raj, literacy and health care. The president also planted a sapling in the assembly premises to mark the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Indian democracy sustains itself on the foundation of secularism. In the Indian context, he said, there cannot be democracy without secularism and freedom without democracy.

“In this era of ‘post truth politics’, we ought to examine how our democracy is being affected by such tendencies which seek to subdue facts by misusing emotions. “Especially with the widespread use of social media, falsehoods aimed at fostering hatred and enmity are being propagated at will,” Vijayan said.

Governor P Sathasivam, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan were among those who spoke at the event which is being attended by legislators of other states and union territories.