President's address to nation: Pranab warns anti-graft 'protests' flirting with chaos

Pranab mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee today made a veiled attack at "endemic" protests against corruption warning that the country would be "flirting with chaos" if its democratic institutions come under an assault.

Mincing no words in underlining the dangers in undermining institutions like Parliament, he said legislation cannot be wrenched away from legislature or justice from judiciary.

He described Parliament as "the soul of the people, the 'Atman' of India".

The President's comments against the backdrop of anti-corruption protests of Anna Hazare and Ramdev came in his maiden address to the nation on the eve of 66th Independence Day.

In a speech that covered India's emergence as a stable democracy and its economic growth post-Independence, the new President also warned that if progress fell behind rising aspirations of the youth "rage will manifest".

Earlier last month in his acceptance speech after his election to the post, Mukherjee had said that trickledown theories do not address the legitimate aspirations of the poor.

In today's address, he said if Indian economy has achieved critical mass, then it must become a launching pad for the next leap. "We need a second freedom struggle; this time to ensure that India is free for ever from hunger, disease and poverty."

Mukherjee said, "anger against the bitter pandemic of corruption is legitimate, as is the protest against this plague that is eroding the capability and potential of our nation.

"There are times when people lose their patience but it cannot become an excuse for an assault on our democratic institutions," he said without referring to either Hazare or Ramdev.

The President, a veteran parliamentarian, said the institutions were the visible pillars of the Constitution and if they crack, then the idealism of the Constitution cannot hold.

"They are the interface between principles and the people. Our institutions may have suffered the weariness of time; the answer is not to destroy what has been built, but to re-engineer them so that they become stronger than before.

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