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Report on past work of politicians to help voters make informed choice: Vice prez to media

Report on past work of politicians to help voters make informed choice: Vice prez to media
March 20
15:44 2019

NEW DELHI: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Wednesday asked the media to devote space and time to report on antecedents of politicians and their participation in debates in state legislatures and Parliament to help people make an informed choice in the Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking at the first Atal Bihari Vajpayee Memorial Lecture, organised by the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Naidu said during elections, political parties tend to make “popularistic promises” and the media should play the role of questioning the basis of these promises.

Terming voting a “national call of duty”, he said voting in every election needs to be made a habit.

“The media has an important role in promoting participatory democracy through enhanced voter turn out which in turn broad bases the foundation of democratic governance,” the vice president said.

“One of the fundamental aims of democratic elections is to provide the electorate with an opportunity to exercise their political rights and vote for candidates of their choice. A meaningful way for exercising this choice requires a free and fair media, and an informed citizenry,” he said.

He asked media organisations to devote space and time to report on the antecedents of politicians, their past work, participation in debates in state legislatures and Parliament.

“These facts should be reminded to the people so that they can make an informed choice,” he said in his lecture on the ‘Role of Media in Moulding an Enlightened Electorate’.

Expressing concern over the “unhealthy” trend of politicians switching from one party to another after being elected, Naidu opined that defections were making a mockery of democracy.

Defectors must resign from the post and seek reelection, he said.

The vice president stressed on the need for speedy disposal of election cases pending before various courts and time-bound disposal of cases by presiding officers of legislative bodies.

Naidu asked people to elect leaders based on their character, caliber, capacity and conduct, but warned that some people were trying to replace these qualities with cash, community, caste and criminality (4Cs).

“We must foresee that these 4C’s are coming and must be careful,” he said.

The vice president expressed discontent over the falling level of public discourse and wanted the quality of debates to be raised.

Referring to the efforts of the Election Commission to combat fake news, Naidu said the media’s role is extremely important during elections as the chances of people propagating fake news increases.

“It is the responsibility of the media to act like myth-busters in such sensitive times, and report the absolute, undiluted truth,” he said.

Asserting that the quality of the electoral process was the touchstone of a healthy democracy, he said an unbiased media ensures that the electorate is well informed.

Opining that the tendency of the media to add commentary to facts could be dangerous for democracy, he said stick to the facts and present them fearlessly as the old saying goes ‘facts are sacred and opinion is free’ .

“Give opinions fearlessly but when giving opinion don’t change the facts,” the vice president said. PTi

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