Hamid Ansari and Narendra Modi
New Delhi, Aug. 9: Outgoing Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who feels the habit of wearing patriotism on one's sleeve is a sign of insecurity, has revealed that he had shared with the Prime Minister and several ministers his concern over growing intolerance in society.
"Have you ever shared your concerns, your apprehensions with the Prime Minister or with the government?" television anchor Karan Thapar asked him.
Ansari replied: "Yes.. yes. But what passes between the Vice-President and the Prime Minister in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged conversation."
When Thapar said, "as Vice-President you felt a need, a moral need to raise this issue with the Prime Minister and you did do so," Ansari confirmed: "With the ministers also and with the Prime Minister also."
Asked if he was satisfied with their response, he said: "Well, there is always an explanation and there is always a reason. Now it is a matter of judgement, whether you accept the explanation, you accept the reasoning and its rationale."
The interview will be aired on Rajya Sabha TV on Thursday evening, hours after Ansari steps down as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, a post that is co-terminus with the office of Vice-President.
"This propensity to be able to assert your nationalism day in and day out is unnecessary. I am an Indian and that is it," Ansari also said.
He was replying to a question on the Supreme Court judgment regarding the mandatory playing of the national anthem before every film screening in a theatre, and the Madras High Court ruling mandating the singing of Vande Mataram in schools of Tamil Nadu once every week.
"The courts are a part of society. So what the courts tend to say sometimes is reflective of what the prevailing atmosphere in society is. I call that a sense of insecurity," said Ansari, who unlike his predecessors has had to face considerable personal attacks from some ruling party seniors despite occupying a constitutional post.
Usually, political parties refrain from openly criticising the President and the Vice-President.
Although Thapar did bring up BJP general secretary Ram Madhav's allegation that Ansari had deliberately not attended Yoga Day celebrations in June 2015, the Vice-President chose not to dwell on it, maintaining that though he was surprised, he was "not really" upset by the insinuations as it was "absurd to begin with".
When the facts of the case were put out, Madhav deleted his tweets and apologised. Asked if Madhav had personally apologised for his allegations, Ansari said: "Let's not talk about that."
Asked about concerns in the Opposition about his successor Venkaiah Naidu - a former BJP president who has described Modi as "God's gift to India''- Ansari said: "Look at the history of Indian Vice-Presidents. They have been politicians, they have been philosophers, they have been educationists, they have been senior-most members of the judiciary. They have all delivered."