Advani hits out, says those who disagree are not ‘anti-national’

L K Advani said he 'wholeheartedly' welcomed the special CBI court verdict acquitting all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. File photo: PTI

Former BJP president and deputy prime minister LK Advani made public his disagreement with a campaign theme of the BJP that vehemently attacks opposition leaders who disagree with the government on national security issues such as the Balakot air strike. “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,” he said.

“Defence 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,” he said on his blog as part of the BJP foundation day, April 6.

Earlier, on April 4, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said at an election rally in Nainital, “By saying that it would revoke the anti-sedition law and dilute the AFSPA, the Congress has made it clear that it is playing into the hands of anti-nationals.” On the day the Congress manifesto was released, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress had gone by the suggestions of the “tukde tukde” gang, a reference to secessionist tendencies, in its promises on Jammu & Kashmir and the Armed Forces Special Forces Act.

In some of his campaign speeches, Modi has lashed out at the opposition. For instance, on April 3, he lashed out West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying, “We hit Balakot but we hurt people here more. Kolkata’s didi was more pained than people in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.”

Referring to the opposition, Modi said they became heroes in Pakistan since they vehemently opposed the Balakot air strike. In Telangana, Modi said the Congress, instead of supporting martyred soldiers, has asked for proof on the damage caused during the Balakot strike.

The rest of the Advani statement talks about the BJP’s commitment to personal and political values and recalls its struggle against the Emergency. “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,” he said, apparently indicating that he was speaking out now against the present leadership in the BJP in the interests of the nation.