Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said it was vital for a true democratic spirit to develop within political parties, and that the matter must be debated by the media, IANS reported.
Addressing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Diwali Milan in New Delhi, he said that people are not very familiar with democracy in political parties, and the country is still adapting to it.
There needs to be transparency in the recruitment of political parties, the prime minister told the journalists gathered. He added that the media must debate on matters regarding the leadership of a political party and what opportunities it gives the younger generations. “Do democratic values form the core of their values? It should become an issue of our debate and deeply so.”
The prime minister’s comments come amid reports that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is set to take over as the next president of the party. The post is currently held by his mother, Sonia Gandhi.
Further emphasising the need for the people to know about the functioning of political parties, Modi said that there may be several doubts and discussions on how political parties are funded. However, “how they are formed, how they function, how they recruit, their values, their ideologies and their weaknesses, what is the reason behind such weaknesses…all this should be debated,” the prime minister said.
Modi also expressed his gratitude to the media for its “positive role” in making the National Democratic Alliance government’s Swachh Bharat Mission a success. “Half of the newspaper pages would be filled with the government’s criticism…But when it comes to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, all are on the same page,” he said. “I thank each one of you for making it a personal mission.”
The Narendra Modi-led government has been often been criticised for not doing enought to ensure the freedom of the press, especially following a number of attacks on journalists in the past few months. A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader and journalist, Rajesh Mishra, was shot dead by bike-borne assailants on October 22 in Uttar Pradesh. Journalist KJ Singh and his mother Gurcharan Kaur were found dead in their Mohali flat on September 23. On September 5, journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru.
India had also slipped to the 136th rank in the World Press Freedom Index. Media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontières had also found that prosecutions were used to “gag journalists overly critical of the government”, including the use of the sedition law that comes with life imprisonment as punishment.