New Delhi: BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani was absolutely right when he said that the party’s political opponents should not be regarded as ‘anti-nationals’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said.
In an interview to News18 Network’s Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi, the Prime Minister said Advani had stated the basic principles of the BJP and this remains our stand today as well.
The veteran leader, who has been benched by the party for the upcoming Lok Sabha election, had made the statement that was seen as a parting shot in a blog titled ‘Nation First, Party Next, Self Last’.
Modi told News18 that all BJP workers follow the same principle. “The nation is supreme, the party is next and the self is last. Even on the issue of nationalism, this remains our stand. So, Advani ji is absolutely right,” he said.
Advani, whose Gandhinagar seat has gone to BJP chief Amit Shah, had written in his blog on April 6 that 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’,” he wrote in the rare statement, made ostensibly to mark BJP’s Foundation Day.
It was seen as a rebuke to the BJP’s rhetoric heading into the election, as terms like ‘anti-national’ and ‘enemies’ have been a common refrain. The Prime Minister himself had said that terrorists and Pakistan wanted him to lose and the Opposition to win.
On Wednesday, he said that the Congress manifesto was a blueprint for Pakistan’s conspiracies. BJP’s senior leader and union finance minister Arun Jaitley, too, said that it looked like the Congress manifesto was written by the ‘tukde tukde gang’ and would lead to the balkanisation of India.
But the Prime Minister, in the interview, said the Congress was to blame for such talk.
“Do you know a Congress leader termed Vajpayee a traitor? Do you know that on the floor of the House, a senior Congress leader who recently passed away called Atal ji a traitor?” he asked.
Modi had earlier too endorsed views expressed by Advani in the blog and said that it had summed up the true essence of the BJP.
“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,” PM Modi had tweeted earlier.
(The full interview will be aired today at 7pm and 10pm on CNN-News18, News18 India, CNBC TV18 and other News18 regional channels.)