Rahul Gandhi accepts invitation to participate in debate with PM Modi.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a public rally for the Lok Sabha elections.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a public rally for the Lok Sabha elections. | Photo credit: ANI

Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi accepted the invitation of two prominent jurists and a senior editor to participate in the public debate.

Retired Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Ajit P Shah, and former Editor-in-Chief. Hindu N Ram had invited Mr Gandhi and Mr Modi for a public debate on May 9 which would be “on a neutral and non-commercial platform”.

Also Read: Lok Sabha Elections Update – May 11

Mr. Gandhi wrote in the letter, a copy of which was released by the party on May 11, that either he or Congress president Mallikarjan Kharge would attend the debate, and he asked Mr. Kharge before accepting the invitation. The invitation was discussed with. .

“As the main parties contesting the elections, the people deserve to hear directly from their leaders,” read Mr. Gandhi's reply. “Please let us know if and when the Prime Minister agrees to attend, after which we can discuss the details and format of the debate.”

The invitation left open the option for the two leaders to nominate a representative for the discussion, “only if one of the two [them] Unable to attend.

For a healthy democracy

The invitation referred to “fundamental questions of our constitutional democracy,” and expressed concerns that “we have heard only accusations and challenges from both sides, and no meaningful answers.”

A debate would be healthy for Indian democracy, the invitation said, adding that the venue, moderators and other modalities of the event would be agreed upon by consensus of both participants.

Spokesmen for Mr. Modi and the BJP had no immediate comment on Mr. Gandhi's willingness to participate in the debate on Saturday evening. Mr Gandhi had earlier indicated his “100%” readiness for a debate with Mr Modi while speaking at an event in Lucknow on Friday, but added: “I know the Prime Minister will not debate me. Will do”.

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