In an implicit criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, party veteran LK Advani on Thursday said the BJP never regarded the political opponents as “enemies” but only viewed them as “adversaries”. In a blog post written exactly after five years, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) patriarch also said that in the conception of Indian nationalism, the party never regarded those who disagree politically as “anti-national”.
He said the guiding principle of his life has been “Nation First, Party Next, Self Last”, and in all situations, he has tried to adhere to this principle and will continue to do so.
“The essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression. Right from its inception, the BJP has never regarded those who disagree with us politically as our ‘enemies’, but only as our adversaries. Similarly, in our conception of Indian nationalism, we have never regarded those who disagree with us politically as ‘anti-national’,” he said.
In a prompt reaction, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the party’s founder member has perfectly summed up the true essence of the BJP.
“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 (worker) and proud that greats like L.K. Advani ji have strengthened it,” Modi said in a tweet.
Advani, one of the founders of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and later the BJP, said that elections are a festival of democracy and “also an occasion for honest introspection by all the stakeholders in Indian democracy”.
“The party has been committed to freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level,” he said.
Defence of democracy and democratic traditions, both within the party and in the larger national setting, he said, has been the proud hallmark of the BJP.
“Therefore, 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,” he said.
“In short, the triad of Satya (truth), Rashtra Nishtha (dedication to nation) and Loktantra (democracy, within and outside the party) guided the struggle-filled evolution of my party,” he added.
His blog comes ahead of the BJP’s foundation day on April 6 and amid the campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls.
“This is an important occasion for all of us in the BJP to look back, look ahead and look within. 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,” he said.
The former Deputy Prime Minister said serving the motherland has been his passion and mission ever since he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at the age of 14.
“My political life has been inseparably associated with my party for nearly seven decades – first with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and later with the Bharatiya Janata Party and I have been a founding member of both. It has been my rare privilege to work closely with stalwarts like Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and many other great, inspiring and self-less leaders,” he said.
Advani conveyed his “sincere gratitude” to the people of Gandhinagar, which he represented in the Lok Sabha six times since 1991, but from where he was not fielded this time by the BJP.
“Their love and support has always overwhelmed me,” he added.