Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for steering clear of politics in his Mann Ki Baat speeches.
Attending a national conclave here ahead of the 100th episode of the monthly radio broadcast on April 30, Mr. Shah called it a “unique experiment” that strengthened the foundation of India’s democracy.
“In all the Mann Ki Baat episodes, the Prime Minister’s speeches were devoid of even the slightest political hue, an unprecedented initiative by any leader in the world,” he said, while describing Mr. Modi as a great communicator.
The Vice-President praised the broadcast for being “completely apolitical”, stating that it was a reflection of the country’s civilisational ethos.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the ‘Mann Ki Baat@100’ conclave, Mr. Dhankhar termed 2014, when a single-party majority government was formed at the Centre after a gap of 30 years, an epochal development which shaped the destiny of India, taking the country to a path of progress and unstoppable rise.
A culturally rich country had forgotten its own contributions and Mann Ki Baat was reviving that spirit, said Mr. Dhankhar.
Listing the Centre’s achievements, he wondered why “some of our own people” would go abroad and make negative remarks on the country. “Why do they exhibit ostrich-kind of stance...why don’t they see writing on the wall...,” he said.
Last month, the BJP had sought an apology from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi following his remarks in London on the “fall of democracy” in India.
“I am personally pained and also sometimes feel bad thinking what our intelligentsia is doing. Long article is written on enforced silence. How can there be enforced silence in a country like India? Such a big freedom of expression cannot be enjoyed anywhere else in the world,” he said.
Mr. Dhankhar said Mann Ki Baat helped spread an all-round positive sentiment. “It is a bouquet of diversity in a country divided by caste, creed and religion unable to harness the talent. It is a harbinger of mass movement as exemplified during Janata Curfew [during COVID-19 outbreak], which was only a call to action by the Prime Minister. The programme encapsulates the aspirations of our people and motivates them to look forward,” he said.
At the valedictory session, Mr. Shah thanked Mr. Modi for choosing radio as the medium. “Dialogue between citizens and the government is one of the key elements of democracy and the strength of a democracy is determined by the robustness and effectiveness of this dialogue,” he said.
Mr. Shah said through dialogue, the Prime Minister gave a platform for honouring the contributions made by common people in various fields, which also inspired the others to work for the development of the country.
Mann Ki Baat gave a fillip to social campaigns like Clean India, Fit India, and the programmes focused on bettering gender ratio, girl child education, water management and conservation, ‘vocal-for-local’, self-reliance and promotion of cultural heritage, he added.
He said the communication methodology employed by the Prime Minister stood on four pillars; it was emotional, spiritual, intellectual and it stimulated physical action. Mr. Shah described this as a perfect communication.
In his address, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the change in political scenario in 2014 brought about an alignment between the people and the government, what had earlier been a space of friction. Stating that dialogue was an essential aspect of good governance, he said Mann Ki Baat had become a precise delivery mechanism for that.
During the inaugural session, Information & Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said the programme played a key role in highlighting the achievements of common people. Citing the recent visit by Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook, he said today the world looked up to India and its economy as a beacon of hope amid global despondency.