Former Vice President Hamid Ansari has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks at his farewell function almost a year ago was considered by many to be a departure from accepted practice, PTI reported.

Ansari made this observation in his new book Dare I Question? Reflections on Contemporary Challenges, a collection of his speeches and writings published mostly in his last year in office. Har-Anand Publications has published the book.

“Each moment, you had to remain confined to the Constitution, and you made a good effort,” the prime minister said in his farewell speech to Ansari. “There may have been some struggle within you [all these years], but from now onwards, you will not have to face this dilemma. You will have a feeling of freedom, and you will get an opportunity to work, think and talk according to your ideology.”

Modi also talked of Ansari’s stint as a diplomat in West Asia and that the outgoing vice president associated with the “same kind of atmosphere, same kind of ideology and same kind of people”.

Ansari said the prime minister was perhaps responding to his speech and television interview in which he spoke of “a sense of unease creeping in” among Muslims and a few other religious minorities.

According to the former vice president, the pluralist view of nationalism and Indianness is now being challenged by a viewpoint depicting “purifying exclusivism” through the idea of “cultural nationalism”. The idea of cultural nationalism is principally based on a narrowly defined shared culture, Ansari says in the book.

“In the typology of democracy; ours is a liberal one based on universal suffrage, tolerance, respect for diversity, a comprehensive charter of rights and Rule of Law that brings together the notions of rights, development, governance and justice,” Ansari said. “Their attainment is premised on equality and fraternity. Any dilution of this principle will take it in the direction of an ethnic democracy, implicitly or otherwise, and would bring forth an illiberal structure.”