'BJP never regarded party opponents as anti-national'

'BJP never regarded party opponents as anti-national'

The BJP veteran L K Advani. File photo

The BJP veteran L K Advani on Thursday batted for “defence of democracy and democratic traditions both within the party and in the larger national setting”, saying these have been the proud hallmark of the BJP.

In his first public remarks since being denied nomination for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the 91-year-old veteran touched upon a range of issues including the raging national versus anti-national debate, stating that “in our conception of Indian nationalism, we have never regarded those who disagree with us politically as anti-national”.

READ: Full text: LK Advani's blog on nation, BJP & opposition

The blog post, Advani’s first in nearly five years titled ‘Nation First, Party Next, Self Last’, comes two days before the BJP celebrates its Foundation Day on April 6, which he said is “an important occasion for all of us in the BJP to look back, look ahead and look within”. It is also seen as a not-so-subtle message to the current BJP leadership under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah about his displeasure and unhappiness over the way the party is run.

The post drew a reaction from Modi, who 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 (sic).”

Advani said the essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression and insisted that the party has been committed to freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as “political level”.

Opposition parties have repeatedly trained guns on the Modi dispensation for allegedly declaring anyone who questions them as anti-national.

“Right from its inception, the BJP has never regarded those who disagree with us politically as our ‘enemies’, but only as our adversaries,” he said.

Advani noted the defence of democracy has been the hallmark of the BJP.