Former President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, on Thursday said that the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) across the country had been “largely peaceful” and would help deepen roots of democracy.

“Indian Democracy has been tested time and again,” Mukherjee said, delivering the inaugural Sukumar Sen Memorial Lecture instituted by Election Commission of India as a tribute to the first Chief Election Commissioner of the country.

“The last few months have witnessed people come out on the streets in large numbers, particularly the young to voice out their views on issues which in their opinion are important,” he said, dismissing not-so-subtly the criticism by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against the nationwide agitation demanding withdrawal of the CAA.

“Their (the protesters’) assertion and belief in the Constitution of India is particularly heartening to see,” the 84-year-old leader said. He was apparently referring to the reading of Preamble of the Constitution of India by the people protesting against the CAA across the country.

He also sent out a subtle message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government.

“Consensus is the lifeblood of Democracy. Democracy thrives on listening, deliberating, discussing, arguing and even dissent,” said Mukherjee, whom Modi Government in August 2019 bestowed with the country’s highest civilian award – “Bharat Ratna”.