Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Saturday said right across the spectrum there is a “serious undermining” of every autonomous institution and it seems the government has only the “loyalty” criterion before appointing individuals to head them.
In an interaction at Press Club here on ‘The need for an independent media as a vital link for democracy’, Mr Tharoor said intimidation of the press was a legitimate issue, and if he has a voice in the party manifesto, he would certainly suggest that this should be made an issue and the party would stand for guaranteeing the freedom of press and non-interference.
The MP from Kerala also said before the 2019 elections, he had warned that a victory for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) would result in an attempt to create a “Hindu Pakistan”.
He said in the first few months after the BJP government rose to power in 2019, he “wasn’t far off” from his prediction as the government brought legislation on triple talaq and the abolition of special provisions of Article 370.
In many ways it was COVID-19 that saved the country as the entire legislative momentum was stalled by the urgent need to tackle the pandemic, he added.
“Right across the spectrum, there seems to be a very serious undermining of the strength of every institution. The government seems to have only the loyalty test before it when it’s appointing people to head any autonomous institution,” Mr Tharoor said.
Referring to the Election Commission, he said there was a time when governments seem to respect the autonomy of autonomous institutions by appointing individuals known for their independence and integrity and cited examples of former Chief Election Commissioners TN Seshan and JM Lyndoh.
Calling the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as a Lok Sabha member worrying after his conviction last month by a Surat court in a criminal defamation case, Mr Tharoor said many of the judiciary’s decisions are “compromised”, though not at every level.
He also said the legislature has been reduced to either a “notice board” for the government or a “rubber stamp”.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)