Suspension of MPs an arbitrary exercise of power former law minister Ashwani Kumar

New Delhi, Dec 20 (PTI) The suspension of 143 opposition MPs from Parliament is an example of arbitrary exercise of power in democracy, former law minister Ashwani Kumar said on Thursday.
     Kumar was speaking at the launch of his book "A Democracy in Retreat: Revisiting the Ends of Power".
     "The expulsion of MPs is the biggest example of arbitrary exercise of power in democracy...You can hide behind rules and power of an institution, but democracy is based on benign exercise of power," Kumar said.
     "What legitimises power is the manner in which it is exercised. Whether someone acknowledged reality or not, we are not just majoritarian democracy, but a Constitutional democracy," he said.
     Kumar added that accountability is important in democracy, and it is not towards an individual, but to the "spirit of Constitution".
     He said democracy is secured eventually only in "assertion of people by mass mobilisation", for which it requires leaders who can rise above themselves.
     The former law minister also said that while the opposition has the right to oppose, it can't claim "moral superiority of judgment" all the time.
     "Democracy is about moderated politics. If you don't, you'll get the plot wrong," he said.
     "Country is looking to 2024 to get alternative narrative is the challenge of leadership," he said.
     The event was also attended by former vice president M Hamid Ansari, Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha, and former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur.
     Ansari, citing reports, said authoritarianism is ascending across the world.
     "Over the last six years, number of countries moving towards authoritarianism have doubled. Nearly half of 173 countries assessed were experiencing decline in at least one metric of democracy," he said.
     Jha, who is among the 143 suspended MPs, said democracy is not a "finished product", and said, quoting Bhimrao Ambedkar, that Constitutional morality is not a "natural sentiment" in India.
    "Ambedkar said democracy is a top dressing on India... Deepening of democracy has not taken place," he said.
     Later, when asked about the suspensions, Jha said Parliament should not be divided between treasury and opposition.
    "People elect the treasury benches, they also elect opposition. What is the opposition's job? It is to ask questions. The security breach that has happened is an issue of national security," he said.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)