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Gujarat:

Bharatiya Janata Party veteran L K Advani has finally broken his silence since the recent controversies over his Lok Sabha candidature. He wrote a blog statement on Thursday, almost five years later the last entry on the web page. The party patriarch was not given a ticket to contest in the upcoming polls as per the decision by the party chiefs.

He has urged his party to “look back, look ahead and look within” and underscored the need for “internal democracy and democratic traditions.”

The status update is titled “ NATION FIRST, PARTY NEXT, SELF LAST”. Advani writes that “Right from its inception, the BJP has never regarded those who disagree with us politically as our “enemies”, but only as out 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”.

For this year’s elections, BJP party president Amit Shah is replacing Advani from Gandhinagar constituency where he is the current sitting MP. Gandhinagar seat is a stronghold of BJP, where Advani has contested and won six elections by now. Apart from him, leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Shanta Kumar and Kalraj Mishra are also not given tickets this time.

“My political life has been inseparably associated with my Party for nearly seven decades – first with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and later with the Bharatiya Janata Party and I have been a founding member of both,” he wrote.

Advani’s callout to respect for diversity and freedom of expression comes at a time when the artists and intellectuals of the country are standing up united against the fascist rule of Narendra Modi government. Advani emphasised that “The essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression.” He also asked for a “honest introspection by all the stakeholders in Indian democracy”, by which he refers to the “political parties, mass media, authorities conducting the election process and, above all, the electorate.”

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