Government must hear views of civil society groups: Pranab

President Pranab Mukherjee addresses the state legislators at Meghalaya Legislative Assembly in city on Monday.

Prez bats for dialogue, consensus

SHILLONG: President Pranab Mukherjee advocated the need for initiating dialogue with any aggrieved groups or civil society members which, according to him, can help in arriving at a consensus on various issues.

Addressing the state legislators at Meghalaya Legislative Assembly at Rilbong on Monday, the President said that in democracy different views can be addressed through dialogue only.

Though the President did not refer to any state specific issue, his comments assume significance in the context of the ongoing stand- off between Meghalaya Government and the 10 pressure groups on the issue of Inner Line Permit (ILP).

Exhorting the government to engage in dialogue with NGOs to resolve issues, Mukherjee said: “NGOs play an important role in expressing the views of the people. It is the responsibility of the government to respond, and it is only through dialogue that consensus could be built.”

According to him, Legislative Assemblies should respond to the issues of the day and should be accessible to civil society.

“I do consider that every political leader who has mandate of the people should try to build up consensus,” the President said in the course of his 40-minute extempore speech.

Citing an example, Mukherjee said that when there was a demand for a strong Lokpal Bill from civil society led by Anna Hazare , the Prime Minister decided to engage the members of the civil society and formed a high power committee of five senior union ministers to have dialogue with the agitating groups.

According to the President, the Prime Minister did not say that the Government would not discuss the Lokpal Bill as drafted by the NGOs.

“We did not say no. we tried to understand their point of views and we had eight meetings with them though it did not produce the desired results”, Mukherjee said.

The President said that the need of the hour is to reduce the area of divergence and to explore the area of convergence and he hoped that the elected representatives would try to build consensus on contentious issues. He also termed Meghalaya as mini India and added that there is a composite culture in the State which everyone is proud of.

Urging the legislators and the people to build Meghalaya like the efforts put by past political leaders, Mukherjee said that everyone should strive to build “a mini India in this beautiful land with a composite culture where people will live in peace and harmony”.