Rajat Sharma

Preventing leaders from addressing rallies does not augur well for a democracy

Aaj ki b (002)Samajwadi Party workers went on the rampage in several cities of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday after police prevented their party supremo Akhilesh Yadav from going to Prayagraj. Yadav was to address his students’ wing supporters there, but was prevented from boarding the aircraft at Lucknow airport. The reason given was that Yadav’s meeting with students in Prayagraj could create law and order problems.

It is true that nobody can justify the need to prevent Akhilesh Yadav from addressing a public meeting. He is, after all, a mass leader in his own right. Ironically, it was the UP CM Yogi Adityanath, who when prevented from addressing a BJP rally in West Bengal by Mamata Banerjee’s administration, had levelled charges of dictatorship on her government. Simiiarly, Mamata Banerjee has no right to allege that opposition leaders are being prevented from addressing public meetings. In 2015, the then UP CM Akhilesh Yadav had similarly prevented Yogi Adityanath from visiting Prayagraj to address a rally.

I believe all these three instances, of preventing leaders from addressing rallies, go against the very grain of democracy. Opposition and the right to dissent have a rightful place in a democracy. Every political party and leader has the democratic right to address public meetings.

Ensuring law and order is the prerogative of the administration and police, but if political gatherings are disallowed on grounds of law and order, it does not augur well for a democracy. No matter which party’s government is there, or the ideology it follows, all political parties should trust the public at large. After all, it is the people who listen to everybody and then elect leaders, whom they think can serve them well.

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