Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said a numerical majority in the elections only gives a political party the right to form a “stable government” and not a “majoritarian” one, reported PTI. His comments, made at the second Atal Bihari Vajpayee memorial lecture in New Delhi, come in the backdrop of raging protests against the amended Citizenship Act.

“The mandate is to govern as a majority party with a stable government, but carry others with you,” Mukherjee said, according to Hindustan Times. “That is why we think we can do anything and everything, when we have an overwhelming majority in the legislature. But that should not be the case.”

Mukherjee said “a numerical majority” in elections is only for a stable government. “The lack of popular majority forbids you from a majoritarian government,” he said. “That is the message and essence of our parliamentary democracy.” The Congress leader added that every time a government has behaved otherwise, the voters have rejected the party in the next election. Mukherjee said that the electorate has the ability make a distinction between electoral majorities and majoritarianism.

Mukherjee also pointed out that while the electorate has given an overwhelming mandate to many parties since 1952, not a single one has been elected with over 50% vote share. In the April-May General Elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had secured 38% votes.

The former president, who was a parliamentarian for four decades, also pitched for increasing the number of Lok Sabha constituencies. He said there was a “disproportionately large size of the electorate vis-à-vis the number of public representatives”. “It should ideally increase to about 1,000 Lok Sabha MPs with a corresponding rise in the number of MPs in Rajya Sabha and the state legislatures”. Currently, the Lok Sabha has 543 seats.

He said the last time the strength of Lok Sabha was revised was in 1977. It was based on the 1971 census that counted the total population at 55 crore. The population is now more than double that, he pointed out.

He also hailed Vajpayee as a consensus builder who worked with everyone. He called the former prime minister a “visionary” with a good understanding of the country and the people, reported NDTV.

“India and Indians intrinsically cannot digest bigotry and division over a sustained period,” he said. “We are a nation of 12,69,219 square miles, practising seven major religions, speaking 122 languages and 1,600 dialects in their everyday lives... represented by the Constitution of India. Atalji accepted this reality. He shaped his vision for everyone, seeking to take everyone along even though many may not have agreed with his ideological inclinations.”