So asked Atal Behari Vajpayee. Or so says the man described as Advani's problem about the man they called BJP's mukhota, or mask. We are not sure whether Sri Rajnath Singh's description of it as "a geo-cultural concept" would have satisfied him.
As Prime Minister, Atalji rarely used the term Hindutva. The one time he did so on a public platform was to sharply rebuke its narrow, dogmatic and exclusivist projection. The occasion was the launch of a book, India First, authored by the late K.R. Malkani, at 7 Race Course Road in March 2002. Here is how PTI reported his speech on that day. “In a clear disapproval of the recent actions of the so-called practitioners of Hindutva, the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, tonight said it would be better to ‘keep a distance’ from the kind of Hindutva being practised by some now. Speaking at a book release function here, he said when Swami Vivekananda spoke of Hinduism, nobody called him communal. ‘But now, some people have defined Hindutva in such a manner that it is better to keep a distance from it.’ He said Hindutva should not be equated with religion as it was ‘a way of life’. We should keep away from such Hindutva which is stagnant.”
Interesting also that while many have commented on ABV's absence that proved expensive for the BJP this time around, another man, Pramod Mahajan, instrumental for their coming to power, had gone largely unremembered, until today, when Maneka Gandhi felt the need to compare his style of functioning with Arun Jaitley's.