Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Saturday cautioned against "witch-hunt" masquerading as journalism and the language used in media discourse, but both upheld free media as "essential" to India's democracy.
The two leaders spoke after inaugurating the National Media Centre, a state-of-the-art government press facility on Delhi's Raisina Road.
"A spirit of inquiry must not morph into a campaign of calumny. A witch-hunt is no substitute for investigative journalism. And personal prejudices must not replace public good," the PM said.
In the same breadth, he reiterated a commitment to "fostering a free, pluralistic and independent media".
Gandhi said there had to be space for "opposing points for view" and that the Indian press could not be "faulted for not providing this in abundance".
On the flip side, "perhaps, at times, the language and dignity of media discussion can be found wanting."
"Sometimes, I have to confess," Gandhi said, "the media makes the political establishment uncomfortable. We welcome the watchdog role of the media."
I&B minister Manish Tewari said the UPA's media philosophy has been about persuasion and not regulation.