Once Under Attack for Babri Demolition, Advani Now Finds Sympathisers in Opposition
Following the BJP veteran's blog, though many lined up in support, some also reminded that it was Advani who had been at the forefront of the Ayodhya movement.
File photo of BJP veteran LK Advani (PTI)
New Delhi: Days after he was denied a ticket to contest Lok Sabha elections from Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat, BJP patriarch LK Advani finally broke his silence in a blog post Thursday, writing that the party had never regarded its political opponents as 'anti-nationals'.
Advani, in an apparent attack at the current BJP leadership, wrote: "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."
The 91-year-old veteran, who was at the forefront of the Ayodhya movement that led to the demolition of Babri Masjid, said BJP had a history of commitment to freedom of choice of every citizen at 'personal' as well as 'political' level. "Similarly, in our conception of Indian nationalism, we have never regarded those who disagree with us politically as anti-national," Advani wrote.
Following Advani's blog, several opposition leaders jumped in support of the BJP leader and criticised BJP's present leadership of PM Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah.
“Never regarded those who disagreed with us politically as enemies or anti-national, only adversaries. Under Modi ji BJP's thought processes have been both: changed and maimed,” tweeted Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
“Listen Modi ji to one who helped you in your journey to Delhi!” he added.
West Bengal CM and Trinamool Cingress chief Mamata Banerjee also backed Advani’s message and called it ‘significant’.
“As the senior most politician, fmr (sic) Dy PM and founding father of BJP, the views AdvaniJi has expressed about extending democratic courtesies, is significant. Of course, all Opposition who raise their voices are not anti-national. We welcome his statement & convey our humble regards,” she tweeted.
Former Finance Minsiter in the UPA government P Chidambaram tweeted, “'Any one who criticises or opposes the BJP government is not anti-national' says Mr L K Advani. It is an indictment of Mr Modi and his government.”
However, all these leaders have criticised Advani before. Following the BJP veteran’s blog, though many lined up in support, some also reminded that it was Advani who had been at the forefront of the Ayodhya movement that led to the demolition of Babri Masjid, sparking communal riots across the country.
In fact, leaders tweeting in his support have attacked him earlier on similar issues. Chidambaram had, in 2009, said that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was a "pre-planned and cold-blooded" act and that BJP leaders Advani and MM Joshi could not escape responsibility.
Chidambaram, in his Lok Sabha speech over Liberhan Commission report, had said Advani and Joshi made "feeble" attempts to stop the activists, which pointed toward a "hidden" intent of complicity.
Congress leader Sibal had criticised Advani for staying silent on communal speeches given by Varun Gandhi. “The silent Advaniji is completely in tune with what is happening because without his consent this could not have happened. He could have easily stopped it,” SIbal had said in 2009.
Mamata Banerjee has over the years criticised the senior BJP leader over charges of communal speeches. More recently, she referred to Advani’s infamous 1990 Rath Yatra across the country that resulted in communal violence in different places. When BJP failed to get a permission for a Rath Yatra in West Bengal in December last year, Banerjee had said Rath Yatras were not meant to kill people.
This is the first time Advani has broken his silence after he was denied a ticket from Gandhinagar. On the day of his blog post, Shah said BJP had decided to not give tickets to leaders above 75 years of age.
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