For the BJP, Congress is an adversary, and not an ‘enemy’
“We are a thriving multi-party democracy. The diversity of our political system is a source of strength as well as vibrancy. Since the era of the Congress party’s pan-Indian hegemony is long over, the configuration of India’s contemporary politics has become essentially bipolar at the national level with the BJP and Congress as the two principal and stable poles. Apart from these two main national parties, there are many that identify themselves with specific regional or social aspirations. Coalitions have become the order of the day both at the Centre and in many states. Some of the coalition partners are also known to switch their allegiance from time to time.
This development in the last two decades has created a major challenge before our polity: how to ensure that a fragmented multi-party system, despite its inevitable pulls and pushes, can still maintain a core unity and continuity of purpose? Naturally, national parties have a greater responsibility in this regard than regional or sectional parties. Therefore, the need for a basic level of consensus amongst all parties, and especially between the two main national parties, has become paramount. Differences between the BJP and the Congress—as also between other parties—are bound to remain, since they profess different ideologies and have traversed different paths of evolution. Nevertheless, it is both possible and necessary for them to explore and expand the area of cooperation on issues of overriding national importance. For this, it is imperative that all parties inculcate the ethos of cooperation rather than confrontation, and maintain a basic level of dialogue which is not jettisoned for narrow considerations of competitive electoral politics.
For the BJP and the Congress to adopt a stance of consensus on critical national issues, it is essential for each to not look at the other as an ‘enemy’. As far as the BJP is concerned, we view the Congress as an adversary, and not as an ‘enemy’. Indeed, the very concept of ‘enemy’ in a democracy is unhealthy. Unfortunately, the Congress party’s attitude to the BJP is far from healthy. The Congress leadership thinks the BJP is evil.
I earnestly appeal to Congress leaders to shun such an approach.”
A brief discussion with Rahul Gandhi
“I had an occasion to discuss this matter with Rahul Gandhi, the young General Secretary of the Congress, during a chance meeting with him in the lounge at the Delhi airport one day in December 2007. He was leaving for his parliamentary constituency in UP and I was on my way to address an election rally in Gujarat. He walked up to me, greeted me warmly and said, ‘Advaniji, I am pleased to meet you. I had never had an opportunity to formally introduce myself.’ The natural courtesy and respect for age that he displayed was similar to how his father, the late Rajiv Gandhi, had greeted me in our first meeting after he became the Prime Minister. Rahul asked me about my ‘medium-term’ views on national politics. I said, ‘I am concerned that the political space for our two mainstream national parties is shrinking, while regional parties are expanding and gaining political clout. If this continues, it will have serious implications for India in the future.’ I then asked Rahul whether his own party was equally concerned about this development. His reply was in the affirmative. This prompted me to remark: ‘The only way out is for the BJP and the Congress to view each other as “political adversaries” and not as “enemies”. For this, the leadership of our two parties should have a line of communication open on important national issues.’ Rahul seemed to agree with this suggestion.”