195/288 Seats ((145 Seats to Win)
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Those Who Disagree With BJP Aren't 'Anti-National': LK Advani Calls for 'Honest Introspection'
The veteran BJP leader was speaking out for the first time after the party announced the decision to field Amit Shah from Advani's traditional Gandhinagar seat.
New Delhi: Days after being dropped from Bharatiya Janata Party's list of Lok Sabha contenders, party veteran Lal Krishna Advani on Thursday wrote a blog, emphasising that the saffron party advocates for freedom of choice and does not believe in branding people "anti-national" for their different political stand.
The 91-year-old BJP leader was speaking out for the first time after the party announced the decision to field Amit Shah from Advani's traditional Gandhinagar seat.
"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 wrote in the blog ahead of the BJP's foundation day on April 6.
His views assume significance at a time when the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah have made the issue of national security a key plank for the general elections and have often accused its political rivals of speaking the language of India's enemies like Pakistan.
Many BJP leaders have also often used terms like "anti-national" to target opposition leaders.
He also thanked Gandhinagar for sending him to the Lok Sabha six times since 1991. "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," Advani said.
The Gandhinagar seat has been a strong BJP bastion. In the 2017 assembly polls, out of the seven constituencies which falls under Gandhinagar LS seat, BJP had won five seats, while two had gone to Congress.
According to political pundits, the decision to field Amit Shah from Advani's seat has sent two clear signals — one that as the veteran leader himself did not declare his retirement from electoral politics means he has been made to retire, and two, the party by replacing him with Shah has appointed his political heir.
Sources in the BJP had earlier told News18 that a senior leader from the RSS had visited Advani at his residence and informed him that the party would not be asking him to contest polls, officially citing the 91-year-old's age.
The BJP stalwart had played a major role in the revival of the party after the debacle in 1984 when it won only two seats. He won six times from Gandhinagar, the first time in 1991 and the last five elections since 1998 consecutively.
Advani had embarked on a rath yatra a year after winning first from Gandhinagar to push for the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.
The leader said that the "guiding principle" of his 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 added. Advani is one of the BJP founders and its longest-serving president.
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