The Bharatiya Janata Party’s two-day national executive kept its political preoccupations, both with the debate on nationalism and its attempts at making up with the Dalit community after the suicide of University of Hyderabad student Rohith Vemula, front and centre.
On the concluding day of the event on Sunday, the party announced grand plans for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mhow, the birth place of Constitution framer B.R. Ambedkar on his birth anniversary on April 14, while also declaring in its political resolution that “freedom of expression and nationalism do necessarily co-exist” but that this fundamental right does not cover calls to destroy the country.
Mr. Modi also said, in his address to the executive, that the party and the government “was accepting of political criticism of itself, but not of the nation.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, giving details of the resolution, said that neither the cases of sedition against students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) nor Mr. Vemula was referred to specifically in the resolution.
The two issues, however, were definitely on top of the minds of the party leaders.
The resolution highlighted government efforts like building memorials for Ambedkar in Maharashtra and London where he had stayed or how entrepreneurs belonging to weaker sections were being given loans under the Mudra scheme to develop an “institution of Dalit entrepreneurs.”
Asked if the executive also discussed the row over the slogan ‘ Bharat mata ki jai’ , Mr. Jaitley said the party believed it to be an issue over which there should be no debate. He also blamed “ultra-Left elements rather than members of the minority communities” for the JNU incidents.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Mr. Modi told partymen “not to be distracted by attempts by an envious opposition to embroil them in controversies.”
The BJP national executive resolution highlighted government efforts like building memorials for Constitution framer Babasaheb Ambedkar in Maharashtra and London where he had stayed or how entrepreneurs belonging to weaker sections were given loans under the Mudra scheme to develop an “institution of Dalit entrepreneurs.”
The political resolution stated: “Our Constitution guarantees freedom of expression to every citizen, but that freedom is only enjoyable within its framework. Talking of destruction of Bharat can’t be supported in the name of freedom of expression. Similarly refusal to hail Bharat — say Bharat Mata ki Jai — in the name of freedom of expression is also unacceptable. Our Constitution describes India and 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 the mantra of our freedom struggle. It is the heartbeat of a billion people today. It is the reiteration of our Constitutional obligation as citizens to uphold its primacy. The BJP makes it clear that it will firmly oppose any attempt to disrespect Bharat and weaken its unity and integrity.”
Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave details about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the gathering, where he told partymen “not to be distracted by attempts by an envious opposition to embroil them in controversies.” He also unveiled future programmes of the party, including the Prime Minister’s proposed visit to Mhow on April 14 and the plans to celebrate samajik samarasta (social harmony) events between April 14-16.
April 24 is Panchayati Raj day, and the party will, on April 19 and 20 hold Kisan Sabhas in as many gram panchayats as possible to connect with the rural masses. From April 21-24 these programmes of mass contact will culminate in conclaves of panchayat representatives. Mr. Modi will address one in Jamshedpur on April 24.