Speaking out for the first time since he completed two terms as Vice President of India in August last year, Hamid Ansari today said that that India was in danger of becoming an illiberal democracy. When asked by NDTV in an interview whether India was in danger of becoming a majoritarian, illiberal democracy, Mr Ansari said "Yes, very much so. It has been talked about and written about a great deal, being debated not only within the country but anybody who cares to follow Indian developments".
Mr Ansari said he believes that the core principles of India are under threat. "As far as core values are concerned, it is a plural society dedicating itself to secularism and the realisation of all those principles which are listed in the Preamble of the Constitution. These are being questioned in one form or the other," he said.
He criticised the attempts to label people as more or less nationalist. "Our nationalism is defined by the Indian Constitution. It is inclusive. It includes the entire citizen party. Now if an effort is being made for this reason or that reason to circumscribe that, to say that no an Indian national is this but if you don't do this then you are less of a national - that is where problem comes in."
The former vice president said people believe Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not happy with his public remarks on the unease in the Muslim community in his last interview before he demitted office. "People read it that way. And his faithful followers certainly read it that way."
Mr Ansari said Muslims do a feel a greater sense of unease today because of "incidents" which have taken place. "I think the media has been full of reports of incidents which cannot but cause unease, whatever the reason might be, wherever the incidents might have taken place but if you take them in totality then there is a sense of unease."
Criticising Union Minister Jayant Sinha for garlanding the accused in a lynching case in Jharkhand, Mr Ansari said "They are sending a message to their core following and sending a message to the rest of the citizen body in the country and this is what is worrying. If you are in a public position whether as an elected representative, as a minister, an official, as member of judiciary you have by your public utterances and public behaviour convey certain messages that you are not representing this opinion or that opinion, you are representing that opinion of the State as inscribed in the basic principles of the State."
He also said the practice of triple talaq was un-Islamic. "I have said this again and again. Go back to basic religious texts, triple talaq is not endorsed by the texts."