ET View: Modi’s approval of Advani’s ‘being anti-BJP is not being anti-national’ matters

As every right-thinking Indian knows, being opposed to the ruling party of the country – BJP, as happens to be the case today – does not make one ‘anti-national’. The trouble is that not every Indian, it turns out, is a right-thinking Indian. And one isn’t only talking about Lok Sabha BJP candidate from Bangalore South Tejasvi Surya, whose litmus test for patriotism, ‘If you are with Modi, you are with India and if you are anti-Modi, you are anti-India’, isn’t only logically unsound for its false one-is-to-one exclusionary correlation, but also blatantly anti-democratic. There are many others in the herd who conflate being anti-BJP with anti-India.

In this context, veteran BJP leader LK Advani’s message in his blog, ‘Nation First, Party Next, Self Last’ is welcome. Advani writes that BJP “never regarded those who disagree with us politically as our enemies, but only as our adversaries” and that those who disagreed politically with the party can’t be deemed ‘anti-national’ on that basis. As someone who knows his Bhagvd Gita, Advani is right to underline the difference between ‘enemy’ and ‘adversary’.

The former BJP president’s message is welcome. But is it effective? Considering that he has been politically put to pasture this election season, and that he had received the respectful political equivalent of a ‘Lifetime Achievement Oscar’ some time back from his party, Advani speaking about being anti-BJP not being synonymous with anti-India cuts less ice among today’s hyper-nationalist uber-BJP-supporters who may find such nuances tiresome and signs of weakness.

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Sometimes, you need the voice of a person that people are ready to hear to drive home a message of reason. As one of the most popular leaders of our times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s voice is clearly heard, and taken seriously, especially by his many die-hard admirers. Which is why Modi’s approval of Advani’s message in the form of a tweet – ‘Advaniji perfectly sums up the true essence of BJP, most notably the guiding mantra of ‘nation first, party next, self last…’ – cuts much more ice.

This is approval coming from someone whom the Tejasvi Suryas of the world will listen, and listen to, not what in their estimation are plaintive appeals from, well, anti-BJP anti-nationals. One hopes, that for their unconditional love for the prime minister, those conflating BJP and India, ‘Modi sena’ and the Indian Army, will see some sense. Or at least, refrain from projecting nonsense.



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