Manmohan Singh concerned over challenge posed by extremists

Manmohan Singh concerned over challenge posed by extremists


Presiding officers from different Commonwealth nations arrive to attend the 20th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

"The growth of extremist ideologies is threatening civilised existence. The proponents of such ideologies are challenging the tenets of democracy and representational politics by resorting to intimidation, terror and other manifestations of intolerance," he said.

Singh was inaugurating a Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC) being attended by 50 Speakers and Presiding Officers of 42 Parliaments in Commonwealth countries, including Pakistan. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is Chairperson of the Conference.

The Prime Minister said, "We should not and cannot give any quarter to such forces. At the same time we should look at ways and means by which such forces can be eliminated without undermining our democratic foundations."

He said this will require sustained international effort and cooperation and expressed the hope that the deliberations at the conference would give "new insights on how we can tackle this grave menace".

Singh also spoke about the growing number of regional and sub-regional parties in the country and a concomitant rise in coalition politics.

This, he said, was the manifestation of deepening of democratic representation with more and more sections of the electorate gaining a political voice.


"This has not only presented a challenge for governance but also for the conduct of the system of parliamentary democracy as the voices of the smaller parties have found greater resonance within the political structure," the Prime Minister said.
He said in such a situation, the role of presiding officers has come into sharp focus.
The task of running Parliament smoothly, giving due representation and voice to all sections has become more complex and challenging, he said.
"The aspirations of the smaller parties may often be anchored in narrower considerations but they carry great weight for their constituents," he said, adding in the end democracy must respond to these everyday concerns of the common man and Parliament should be the forum to articulate and address them.

Hailing Kumar, he said he was pleased that the Speaker facing these challenges in Indian Parliament was a "very distinguised woman .... who sheathes the proverbial iron fist beneath a velvet voice."

Noting that throughout the world, there now was a generational shift in politics as in business and other fields, he said in India 70 per cent of the population is below the age of 35 and they are voting in large numbers. "We must act to meet their expectations."
Without referring to the long pending women's reservation bill, he said that it is also imperative that women are given a more meaningful voice in political and developmental processes.

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