NaMo, RaGa invited to debate

Justices Madan Lokur and AP Shah, former Judges of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court respectively, have invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for a public debate midway through the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
A letter addressed to the duo by Justices Lokur and Shah, as well as former Editor of The Hindu N Ram, says that the proposal is non-partisan and in the larger interest of the Nation.
The former Judges and the journalist say that a public debate on a non-partisan and non-commercial platform would greatly benefit citizens and strengthen the democratic process.
"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, set a great precedent, not just by educating the public, but also in projecting the true image of a healthy and vibrant democracy," it adds.
It states that during rallies and public addresses, members of both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) have asked important questions relating to the core of our Constitutional democracy.
"The Prime Minister has publicly challenged the Congress on reservations, Article 370 and wealth redistribution. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge has questioned the Prime Minister 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 states.
However, the letter has expressed concerns about the lack of meaningful responses from either side. It has emphasised the importance of ensuring that the public is well educated about all aspects of the debate in today's digital world, which is characterised by misinformation and manipulation.
"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," the letter further states.
To this end, Justice Lokur and Shah, along with N Ram, have requested Modi and Gandhi to participate in this debate on key election issues, suggesting that the venue, duration, moderators and format be mutually agreed upon. They have also proposed the option for either leader to nominate a representative if they are unable to attend.
Bar and Bench