A collage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi
A collage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi(Photo | PTI)

'Heard only allegations': Renowned jurists invite PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi to public debate

The BJP and the INC have raised significant issues concerning the essence of our constitutional democracy during their rallies and public speeches.

BELAGAVI: Amid the ongoing general elections, former Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur, former High Court Chief Justice AP Shah and veteran journalist N Ram have invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to a public debate on the Lok Sabha Election 2024.

The trio in a letter to the PM and the Congress leader stated, "We write to you as citizens of India who have performed our duty to the country in various capacities. We approach you with a proposal that we believe is non partisan and in the larger interest of every citizen.''

As a halfway point of the 18th Lok Sabha's general election has been reached both the BJP, the ruling party, and the INC, the main opposition party, have raised significant issues concerning the essence of our constitutional democracy during their rallies and public speeches.

The PM has publicly challenged Congress on reservations, Article 370 and wealth redistribution. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge has questioned the PM on possible mutilation of the constitution, electoral bond scheme and the government's response to China, and also challenged him to a public debate.

Both sides have asked each other questions about their respective manifestos as well as their stand on the constitutionally protected scheme of social justice.

The letter stated, "As members of the public, we are concerned that we have heard only allegations and challenges from either side and not heard any meaningful responses. As we are aware today's digital world carries with it a propensity for misinformation, misrepresentation, and manipulation. In these circumstances, it is fundamentally important to ensure that the public is well educated about all aspects of the debate, so that they can make an informed choice at the ballots- this is central to the effective exercise of our electoral franchise.

"We believe that citizens would hugely benefit by hearing directly from our political leaders through a public debate on a non partisan and non-commercial platform. It would be ideal if the public heard not just the questions of each side, but also the responses. We are of the view that this would help to strengthen our democratic process immensely. This bears more relevance as we are the world's largest democracy, and the entire world is watching our elections keenly. A public debate such as this would, therefore, seat a great precedent, not just by educating the public, but also in projecting the true image of a healthy and vibrant democracy," the letter read.

The three prominent figures cordially urged the two prominent leaders, who represent the voices of their respective factions vying for public support, to engage in a public discussion on the pivotal election issues.

The specifics of the debate, including the location, duration, moderation, and format could be mutually agreed upon by both parties, they suggested.

"We trust you will consider our request positively. We also suggest, and only if either of you is unavailable to address this debate, you may nominate a representative to the debate,'' added the letter.

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