President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the Constitution highlighted both rights and duties of citizens and it was time to focus on responsibilities as well.
The message from the top three Constitutional authorities came on the occasion of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the adoption of the Constitution at a function in Parliament that was boycotted by the key opposition parties to protest the political developments in Maharashtra where the Governor had installed a BJP chief minister at a time when Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine was gearing up to stake claim to form the government.
Among the opposition parties that marked their presence at the function included BSP, BJD, YSRCP and TRS.
Kovind also said that all the three organs of the state, persons holding constitutional posts, members of the civil society and citizens should abide by “constitutional morality”.
“If we all discharge our duties, right will not be far to seek. If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they escape us like a will-o-the-wisp,” Kovind said quoting Mahatma Gandhi.
Modi said there had been an emphasis on peoples’ rights in the last many years as many felt deprived of equality and justice. The demand now, he said, is that the society should deliberate on its duties and responsibilities as well.
“We cannot preserve our rights without fulfilling our responsibilities,” he said.
Striking a word of caution, Vice President Naidu said Babasaheb Ambedkar, the archiect of the Constitution, was candid enough to express his fears as to what the future has in store for India.
“Will Indians place the country above their creed or will they place the creed above country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if parties place creed above our country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever,” Naidu said quoting Ambedkar.
Naidu said the Indian democratic experience, over the last seventy years, has been fairly positive “except for a dark patch during the Emergency when the Constitution was subverted”.
“But, it is a glowing testimony to our country’s resilience, the strong framework of parliamentary democracy, a robust electoral system and above all, the people’s ability to orchestrate dissent through constitutional provisions that prevented us from slipping into dictatorship,” he said.