Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said ideology should never be above national interest, and that doing so had done “great harm” to the country’s democratic system. He was speaking via video conferencing at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Unveiling a life-size statue of Swami Vivekananda at the admin block, Modi cited examples of the freedom movement under Mahatma Gandhi, and the Emergency, as occasions when people of all political ideologies had come together in national interest.
“One thing that has done great harm to the democratic system of our country is to give priority to ideology over national interest. Because my ideology says this, that is why in matters of national interest, I will think within this framework… work within these parameters; this is wrong,” he said.
“Today everyone is proud of their ideology. It is also natural. But still, our ideology should be seen as one with the nation, not against…, in matters of national interest,” he said.
Modi said that “whenever a difficult time has come in front of the country, people of every ideology have come together in national interest”.
“People of every ideology came together under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in the freedom struggle. They fought together for the country. The country saw the same unity during the Emergency. Ex-Congress leaders and activists were also in that movement against the Emergency. There were also RSS volunteers and Jan Sangh people… socialists and communists.
“No one had to compromise their ideology even in this fight. The only purpose was national interest. Therefore, when there is a question of unity, integrity and interest of the nation, by taking decisions under the burden of your ideology, the country only suffers,” Modi said.
He congratulated JNU for installing a statue of Vivekananda and said he wished it would “inspire everyone and give courage”: “May this statue teach us immense dedication… intense love for our country which is the highest message of Swamiji’s life.”
Addressing students, he also said the youth were brand ambassadors of Brand India worldwide and they represented India’s culture and traditions: “The expectation from you is not just to be proud of India’s identity, which has been going on for thousands of years. Rather, it is also to create a new identity of India in the 21st Century… Our country is the land where seeds of different intellectual ideas have sprouted, thrived. It is necessary for the youth to strengthen this tradition. Due to this tradition, India is the most vibrant democracy in the world.”
Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, who also joined the event virtually, said he hopes JNU students would take inspiration from the statue. V-C M Jagadesh Kumar said JNU had been in the news for the last few years for being among top-ranking among universities, naming the library after B R Ambedkar and “tightening rules and regulations” to make them “more efficient” among other reasons, and that the statue was “another good reason” to make news.
As Modi was speaking, the JNU Students’ Union protested at the North Gate, citing the government’s “open support” for violence on university campuses as well as against the New Education Policy.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines