By Punit Mishra
BJP veteran and former deputy prime minister Lal Kishen Advani had started blogging as early as January 2009 though the last of his blogs appeared exactly five year ago while he was on the campaign trail as the BJP candidate from the Gandhinagar constituency in Gujarat in 2014. Last week, after it became clear that he along with party’s old guard like Murli Manohar Joshi and Sumitra Mahajan will not be given tickets to contest the impending elections, he took to his blog again. There was no word about Narendra Modi who runs the party with an iron fist or Amit Shah, the party president who replaced Advani as the BJP candidate in Gandhinagar. Instead, he addressed his message to the people of India and millions of party workers “both of whom have indebted me with their affection and respect” but the 500 plus words than he penned and titled “Nation First, Party Next, Self Last” left none in doubt that about who exactly he was referring to.
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On April 6th, 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.
The blog left the BJP leadership red-faced but Modi in an obvious attempt at face saving tweeted his reaction to the BJP veteran’s thoughts. “Advani Ji perfectly sums up the true essence of BJP, most notably the guiding Mantra of ‘Nation First, Party Next, Self Last,” Modi posted. “Proud to be a BJP Karyakarta and proud that greats like LK Advani Ji have strengthened it.”
That Advani’s jottings about never regarding “those who disagree us politically as anti-national” and the BJP giving every citizen the “freedom of choice at (the) personal as well as political level” came a day after Amit Shah termed the Congress manifesto “anti-national” would not have been lost on anyone.