Kharge says culture of branding people 'anti-national' is dangerous

Kharge recalled Ambedkar's warning on the ills of "hero-worship" or "bhakti" in Indian politics, and said "culture of forcing silence" will finish democracy

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge


On the birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday took a swipe at the government, saying the "culture of forcing silence" and branding people 'anti-nationals' is a dangerous trend that will finish our democracy and destroy the Constitution. In his message on Ambedkar Jayanti, Kharge also alleged that Parliament has been converted into an arena of combat rather than debate, and not by the opposition, but by the ruling party.

He recalled that Ambedkar had warned about the ills of "hero-worship" or 'bhakti' in the context of Indian politics.

"On the behalf of Indian National Congress, we bow in reverence to the tremendous contribution of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar on his 132nd Jayanti today. Babasaheb was a champion of the democratic principles of liberty, equality, fraternity, and justice," he said.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi also paid tribute to Ambedkar on Twitter: "Equality, liberty, fraternity and justice—the universal values Babasaheb Ambedkar championed, will always remain our guiding light & strength! Tributes to the Architect of India’s Constitution on his birth anniversary."

Kharge also noted that Ambedkar was firm in his commitment to the transformation of India and its society, both economically and socially.

"We all greatly respect him as the architect of India's Constitution. He was instrumental in establishing a large number of robust institutions and made several important interventions to end caste discrimination, gender inequality and divisive politics," the Congress president said.

As a leading economist of those times, Ambedkar also contributed to India's agriculture, its water resource management, and our banking sector by conceptualising the Reserve Bank of India, he said.

His finest inheritance needs constant care for preservation, Kharge stressed. "Today, the very foundation of our constitutional democracy as envisaged by Babasaheb and our distinguished makers of modern India like—Pandit Nehru-ji, Sardar Patel-ji, Maulana Azad, Netaji Subhash Chandra-ji—is in grave danger," he said. "Parliament has been converted into an arena of combat rather than debate. Not by the opposition, but by the ruling party itself."

The Congress president also quoted Ambedkar's closing speech in the Constituent Assembly from November 1949: 'The working of a Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution. The Constitution can provide only the organs of state, such as the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary.

'The factors on which the working of those organs of the state depend are the people and the political parties. They will set up as their instruments to carry out their wishes and their politics. Who can say how the people of India and their parties will behave?'

Kharge said the culture of forcing silence on anyone—be it opposition parties, civil society groups, activists, NGOs, judiciary, media and ordinary citizens and branding them as 'anti-nationals' is a dangerous trend. 

He continued to quote Ambedkar: 'For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.'

In his message to fellow citizens, Kharge added, "It is time for serious introspection whether we would allow the degradation of our democracy and pave the way for dictatorship or try to preserve and protect the finest ideals of our Constitution makers."

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