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BJP never regarded dissenters as anti-national: Advani

Last updated on: April 04, 2019 22:56 IST

Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani said on Thursday that his party has never regarded those who disagreed with it politically as 'anti-national' or 'enemies' but only as adversaries, remarks which come at a time when top BJP leaders have used anti-national barbs against political rivals on the issue of national security.

Advani, who has been replaced by party president Amit Shah in Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat, wrote a blog 'Nation First, Party Next, Self Last' ahead of the party's foundation day on April 6, in which he said, 'The essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression.'

 

In the blog, written almost five years after he posted the last piece on its web page, the 91-year-old leader said, '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'. The party has been committed to freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level,' he added.

His comments assume significance as top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah, have been attacking opposition parties with anti-national barbs in the aftermath of Balakot air strikes.

Advani is one of the BJP founders and its longest-serving president. He has been elected from Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat six times since 1991.

Reacting to Advani's blog, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, '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 L K Advani Ji have strengthened it.'

Later in the night, the BJP issued a statement containing Advani's blog post.

While he did not offered any direct comment on his party's decision to not field him in the polls, Advani conveyed his 'most sincere gratitude' to the people of Gandhinagar.

'Defence of democracy and democratic traditions, both within the party and in the larger national setting, has been the 'proud hallmark' of the BJP, he said adding, therefore, 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,' Advani said.

As one of the party's founders, he said he deemed it his duty to share his reflections with the people of India, and more specifically with the millions of BJP workers, 'both of whom have indebted me with their affection and respect'.

Earlier in 2015, Advani was among the senior BJP leaders who had strongly criticised the party's leadership after the setback in the Bihar assembly polls.

Asserting that the triad of 'satya' (truth), 'rashtra nishtha' (dedication to the nation) and 'loktantra' (democracy, both within and outside the party) guided the BJP's struggle-filled evolution, Advani said the sum total of all these values constitute cultural nationalism and good governance.

'The heroic struggle against the Emergency rule was precisely to uphold the above values,' he said.

Commenting on the Lok Sabha polls, he said elections are an occasion for honest introspection by all the stake-holders in Indian democracy - political parties, mass media, authorities conducting the election process and, above all, the electorate.

Advani also recalled his long association with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and said serving the motherland has been his passion and mission ever since he joined it at the age of 14 years.

The former deputy prime minister was made a member of BJP's 'Margdarshak Mandal' (group of mentors) along with another senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi, soon after Modi came to power in 2014 and Shah took over as the party president.

This was seen as easing out of these leaders from active roles by the new party leadership.

FULL TEXT OF ADVANI'S BLOG

Nation first, party next, self last

On April 6, the BJP will celebrate its Foundation Day. 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.

Before I share my thoughts, I take this opportunity to convey my most sincere gratitude to the people of Gandhinagar, who have elected me to the Lok Sabha six times since 1991. Their love and support has always overwhelmed me.

Serving the Motherland has been my passion and my mission ever since I 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, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and many other great, inspiring and self-less leaders.

The guiding principle of my life has been ‘Nation First, Party Next, Self Last.’And in all situations, I have 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'.

The party has been committed to freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level.

Defense of democracy and democratic traditions, both within the Party and in the larger national setting,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.

In short, the triad of satya (truth), rashtra nishtha (dedication to the Nation) and loktantra (democracy, both within and outside the Party) guided the struggle-filled evolution of my Party.

The sum total of all these values constitutes sanskritik rashtravad (Cultural Nationalism) and su-raj (good governance), to which my Party has always remained wedded.

The heroic struggle against the Emergency rule was precisely to uphold the above values.

It is my sincere desire that all of us should collectively strive to strengthen the democratic edifice of India. True, elections 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.

My best wishes to everyone.

Photograph: PTI Photo

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