The political resolution adopted at the BJP National Executive kept the focus on nationalism, and emphasised that freedom of expression did not mean a right to seek the country’s destruction. The JNU row and the developments that followed occupied centrestage at the two-day deliberations.
“Freedom of expression and nationalism do necessarily co-exist. Constitution gives right on expressing dissent and disagreement, but not the country’s destruction… The ideology of nationalism guides our beliefs and philosophy,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who briefed reporters, said.
Asked whether the meeting also discussed the controversy over the slogan ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, Jaitley said the party believed it was an issue over which there should be no debate. The political resolution says: “Our constitution describes India as Bharat also, refusal to chant victory to Bharat is tantamount to disrespect to our Constitution itself. Bharat Mata ki Jai is not merely a slogan. It was a mantra of inspiration to countless freedom fighters during the independence struggle. It is the heartbeat of a billion people today. It is the reiteration of our constitutional obligations as citizens to uphold its primacy.”
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It adds that the BJP wanted to make clear that it would “firmly oppose any attempt to disrespect Bharat, and weaken its unity and integrity”. Speaking at the National Executive on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged his party to grow like a shady banyan tree, and asked party workers not to be distracted by the “irrelevant” issue raked up by the Opposition.
“You have to view the party as a big banyan tree which has permanent deep roots and its branches provide shade to all kinds of people,” the Prime Minister said. He said the BJP’s membership had grown to more than 11 crore members, and the party should “expand horizontally with capacity-building among the members”, so that they could contribute to nation-building.
While party chief Amit Shah and the political resolution harped on the issue of nationalism, the Prime Minister kept the focus on development, which he said was the panacea for all the country’s problems, and should be the key mantra of the government and party.
Modi, according to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who briefed the media about the Prime Minister’s address, dwelt on the government’s work. Asked if he spoke on nationalism, Singh said, “He (Modi) said nationalism is our strength… We have always agitated on the issue of nationalism and moved forward. Time has now come for development. There is need for development.”
The Prime Minister asked party colleagues not to “engage in irrelevant issues”. “We should work on our agenda. Our rivals will try that we remain engaged in irrelevant issues and the government’s work is not discussed among the people,” he said.
Modi cautioned the party against those who he said did not appreciate the government’s “unprecedented” development initiatives. “They just want to rake up trivial issues to make things difficult for you. You should remain untouched by them,” he said.
“We should move ahead with one mantra: vikas, vikas, vikas. This is the answer to all our country’s problems, and we are working in this direction. Change is happening and the wheel of progress is moving fast. The party and government are working shoulder to shoulder.”
Modi asked the party should reach out to the people to talk about schemes like providing LPG connections to the poor, the district tribal fund, electrification of over 6,500 villages, disbursement of Mudra loans to lakhs of people, the green signal for kirana shops to be open all seven days until late at night, and the crop insurance scheme.
Citing how Mahatma Gandhi had linked the people’s issues to nation’s freedom movement, Modi asked his party workers to utilise the government’s schemes to reach out to people at the ground level.