Millennium Post

BJP never dubbed rivals as anti-nationals: Advani

New Delhi: Veteran BJP leader L K Advani said 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Advani, who has been replaced by party president Amit Shah in Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat, wrote a blog 'Nation First, Party Next, Self Last' ahead of the party's foundation day on April 6, in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 LK Advani Ji have strengthened it."

While he remained silent on his party's decision not to 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.

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.

"As the senior most politician, former Deputy Prime Minister and founding father of BJP, the views Advani ji has expressed about extending democratic courtesies, is significant. ," Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in a tweet.

M Post Bureau

M Post Bureau

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