LK Advani breaks silence: BJP opponents not anti-national

Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani said in a blog post titled “Nation First, Party Next, Self Last” on Thursday that the BJP had “never regarded those who disagree with us politically as our enemies, but only as our adversaries” and that the BJP’s conception of Indian nationalism never regarded those who disagreed with it politically as “anti-national”.

Advani, 91, who was denied a ticket from Gandhinagar for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, expressed “sincere gratitude” to the people of the city, from where he has been elected six times since 1991.

“The essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression… The party has been committed to freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level,” he said.

Democracy, both within and outside the party, was an important hallmark of the BJP, he added.

Advani’s comments come in the backdrop of a raging debate on nationalism with the Opposition repeatedly accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s top brass of using national security to seek votes and for not giving space for dissent.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweeted Advani’s blog, said that he had perfectly summed up the true essence of the party.

“Advani Ji perfectly sums up the true essence of BJP, most notably the guiding Mantra of ‘Nation First, Party Next, Self Last.’ Proud to be a BJP Karyakarta and proud that greats like LK Advani Ji have strengthened,” Modi tweeted.

The omissions so far from the Lok Sabha list of Advani and another veteran BJP leader, Murli Manohar Joshi, 85, have been attributed to the party’s policy of not fielding leaders over 75 years of age for the elections.

A part of the BJP’s margdarshak mandal, former deputy prime minister Advani added: “The BJP has always been in the forefront of demanding protection of independence, integrity, fairness and robustness of all our democratic institutions, including the media. Electoral reforms, with special focus on transparency in political and electoral funding, which is so essential for a corruption-free polity, has been another priority for our Party.”

Elections, he added, are a festival of democracy. “But they are also an occasion for honest introspection by all the stakeholders in Indian democracy — political parties, mass media, authorities conducting the election process and, above all, the electorate,” he said.

“As one of the founders of the BJP, I deem it to be my duty to share my reflections with the people of India, and more specifically with the millions of workers of my Party, both of whom have indebted me with their affection and respect,” Advani added.

First Published:
Apr 04, 2019 22:28 IST

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