New Delhi: Asked by journalists about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s questionable human rights record, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese defended his decision to share a stage with Modi at a diaspora event in Sydney.
Channel Seven’s Sunrise presenter David Koch asked Albanese, “He’s [Modi] sort of reduced press freedoms, he discriminates against minorities, he’s accused of watering down democracy. He sort of, he seems a bit of a tyrant?”
Albanese replied, “[It is] “not up to me to pass a comment on some of the internal politics in India which, as a democracy, has a range of views, which is a good thing.”
“The economic growth that we’ve seen in India is extraordinary,” Albanese continued.
“And Prime Minister Modi is certainly popular, not with everyone; it’s a democracy, but he’s popular with a majority of people,” he added.
Michael Rowland of ABC News Breakfast too asked Albanese a similar line of questions, including, “It’s clear not every member of the Indian-Australian community is entirely happy Mr Modi is here. He’s accused of repressing his political opponents, he’s accused of repressing the media, he’s accused of discriminating against Muslims. Does any of that trouble you?”
To him, Albanese said, “Well India is, of course, the world’s largest democracy. Here in Australia, of course, people have a right to express their views in a peaceful way, and people, we all have different views about people in politics. Australia, of course, always stands up for human rights, wherever it occurs anywhere in the world.”
When asked if the Australian prime minister would raise these concerns with his Indian counterpart, Albanese replied, “One of the things that I do is engage with people on a one-on-one basis. I do that consistently. What I don’t do is leak text messages with other world leaders. I have a respectful relationship with Prime Minister Modi and with other leaders.”