Debate democracy in party, says Modi, praises media for backing Swachh Bharat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) with BJP President Amit Shah during the Deepawali Mangal Milan programme at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for a debate on democracy within political parties in the country. Though he did not name any outfit or person, the comment — articulated during the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Diwali celebrations — comes at a time when opposition Congress is poised for a leadership change.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is expected to take over the reins of the party from his mother Sonia Gandhi. While some sources claim this could happen as early as November, others are of the opinion that the change will take place only after Gujarat Assembly elections in December.

The PM said there wasn’t as much awareness among the people about internal democracy in political parties, as there was on issues such as political funding. Modi also said the BJP had seldom been as democratic as its now.

“Whether democratic values are a part of their (parties) core values or not, should be debated widely... I believe that the development of a true democratic spirit within political parties is necessary not only for the country’s future but also for a healthy democracy,” the PM said.

He said funding to political parties is often debated but not their internal structures, how they give opportunities to the new generation of leaders and style of functioning. 

Modi also said there was a time when the BJP was ideologically a monolith, with ideological harmony from its central leadership to workers. But now, one gets to hear several different voices within the party. The party’s expansion might be a reason for the divergent views, he said.

Modi also reached out to the media and praised it for supporting the Swachh Bharat campaign. The PM said the media had supported the effort despite criticising the government on other issues. 

He recalled his association with journalists when he was an office bearer of the party at its headquarters in New Delhi before moving to Gujarat.

The PM said the ruling party and the media may have expectations from as well complaints against each other but the need of the hour was to find a working relationship. 

BJP chief Amit Shah said the country has met challenges successfully on all fronts during the past year and moved ahead. “We are entering the new year with a lot of positivity,” he said.

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