Veteran BJP leader and former deputy prime minister LK Advani on Thursday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party has never regarded people with whom it disagreed as "enemies" or "anti-nationals", a reference to the increasing use of nationalism by the ruling party in its attacks on critics and detractors.
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.
"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 leader wrote in a blog ahead of the BJP's foundation day on April 6.
In a blog written almost five years after he wrote the last piece on its web page, Advani added,"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 is one of the BJP founders and its longest-serving president.