14. Advani woos Indian expatriates in London, assails Govt's Kashmir policy
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi, 24 August 1995
14. Advani woos Indian expatriates in London, assails Govt’s Kashmir policy
By L.K. Sharma
LONDON, August 23 - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president L.K. Advani criticised the Rao government’s Kashmir policy, promised a tougher approach if his party came to power and urged the Indian community in Britain to counter the lobbying by the Pakistanis.
He sought to mobilise the Indian community at a meeting organised by the ‘Overseas Friends of the BJP’ and said that there could be no dialogue with terrorists. A BJP government would ‘scrap Kashmir’s constitutional status and recover the third of the state’s territory under illegal Pakistani occupation.’
In his two-hour long address at a packed Brent town hall, Mr. Advani objected to British media’s description of BJP as a ‘right-wing Hindu fundamentalist party’ and argued at length that his party was no such thing. He said the BJP was ahead of everyone in the race for the next parliamentary elections.
Mr. Advani’s statements gave a preview of the BJP’s election strategy which will focus on criminalisation of politics, corruption and the need to emulate Japanese economic nationalism. His description of the ghastly ‘tandoor murder’ evoked considerable laughter.
The BJP leader returned to the theme of the ‘liberal Hindu tradition’ for the second day in an attempt to remove the misgivings of the minorities as well as of secular and devout Hindus who had rebelled against the lumpenisation of the Hindu psyche at the time of the demolition of the Ayodhya mosque. The latter harbour reservations about guided conservatism and any centralised control of the Hindu way of life that may be attempted by a cadre-based party. Mr. Advani’s statements indicated that the BJP will seek to attract new followers by projecting a gentler face of the main organisation while the front organisations continue to consolidate the Hindu vote through religious rabble-rousing.
Mr. Advani shunned stridency and traced the source of his own temple activism to such Congress veterans as Sardar Patel and K.M. Munshi who wrote ‘Jai Somnath’, The BJP leader underpinned the party’s cultural nationalism and political nationalism with his admiration for Swami Vivekanand, Sardar Patel and Shamaldas Gandhi, recording his admiration for a strand of his Congress.
Mr. Advani’s message was directed at those who want to ‘malign’ the BJP but on occasions, the friends of the BJP president in Britain were caught in momentary confusion. Mr. Advani declared that when Pakistan became a theocratic state, no country in the world would have minded had India followed the same path. The audience interrupted the speaker with an applause, mistaking his intent. Mr. Advani resumed with a ‘but’ and went on to say that he, as a ‘thinker’, would not have liked India to become a theocratic state because theocracy was alien to India’s tradition, its legacy and its culture. Having now given the message right, the audience gave a fresh and louder applause to supersede the earlier ill-timed gesture.
Mr. Advani recalled that he had disapproved of the slogan raised in the party: Jo Hindu hit ki bat karega, wohi desh pe raj karega. The BJP government would be for all and not for just the Hindu majority, he said.1
Mr. Advani said he had challenged the BBC to show anything in the BJP manifesto that validated their description of the BJP as a ‘right-wing Hindu fundamentalist patty’. In European terms, it was Mr. Manmohan Singh who was the most right-wing finance minister, he said. He said the BJP was a secular party but it was against pseudo-secularists. ‘I have been telling our Muslim friends, do not see us through the tinted glasses of our critics. Judge, us by our track record,’ he said. The BJP governments in states took all administrative steps to prevent riots. They offered security and justice to every citizen without any discrimination.
An year earlier, Mr. Advani had rebuked a Hindu audience in India for raising the same slogan. He had advised them to say instead, ‘Jo sab ke hit ki bat karega, wohi desh par raj karega.’ This substitute slogan had been noticed by Abhas Chatterjee, and provided the theme of his lecture, Hindu Rashtra Ki AvadharaNa, delivered in Calcutta on 31 July 1994. This lecture was translated by him into English and published by Voice of India in 1995 under the title, The Concept of Hindu Nation. The original lecture in Hindi has also been published in 1997. This business of treating Hindus as merely a majority community and as less than the nation itself, had been started by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan in 1886, and has now been bought by the BJP. ↩