New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) – At the same time, the prime minister sought a national debate on Hindutva – a term critics say describes the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s ideology of a Hindu nationalist state.
Speaking at a fund collection drive organised by the BJP to mark the death anniversary of party ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhhyay, Vajpayee said: “The term Hindutva is lately being used in reference to Indian-ness. There should be a national debate on it.”
He commented on the prevalent ideological confusion, calling for fearless and impartial thinking.
“Hindutva does not belong to one community and it is no means of prayer. It is a grand vision that absorbs all humanity. It has the thinking of all humanity and does not exclude any community, sect or group.”
Addressing the gathering of senior BJP leaders, ministers, MPs and others, Vajpayee also referred to the ideology of integral humanism coined by Upadhhyay to sum up the mission of the BJP’s predecessor Bharatiya Jan Sangh.
“It means that we should take a holistic view and there should be no splintered vision.”
But he added that if ideologies did not match, it did not indicate that the party was straying from its path.
“Power is necessary, but you can do without it. But the ideological debate should go on.”
Giving his own interpretation of Hindutva, Deputy Prime Minister Advani said ‘Hindu’ was synonymous with ‘Indian’. “Hindu represents the nation – not one sect or community. Indian and Hindu are synonyms.”
Advani also justified the BJP’s political alliances with parties of differing ideologies, reminding that the basic philosophy of coalition was inspired by Upadhyaya.
“If social untouchability is bad, political untouchability is equally bad. Even if ideologies do not match, parties can cooperate. If Vajpayee is successfully running a coalition government in the centre, it is on an agreed minimum programme.”
The deputy prime minister said the BJP owed its political journey to two factors – its ideology and its idealism. “Power is not our only goal. We are in politics for a mission and that is our idealism.”
Advani said history was looking to the BJP for answers. “We have an enormous responsibility on our shoulders – and we will fulfil the promise.“
© Copyright 2003 IANS India Private Limited, New Delhi. Posted on Religioscope with permission.