Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party does not believe in political untouchability and values consensus in running the country, reported the Hindustan Times.

“Politics for us is the means to achieve a national policy,” Modi said at an event in Delhi to mark the death anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyay, a BJP ideologue who was the co-founder of the party’s forerunner Jana Sangh. “As I said earlier, the government may run with a majority, but nations are run with consensus. The idea of political untouchability is not in our culture.”

The prime minister said that the BJP-led government has bestowed honours on former President Pranab Mukherjee, ex-chief ministers Tarun Gogoi and SC Jamir – all leaders of the Congress – for their contribution to nation-building. “They were neither part of the BJP nor even allies of the party,” he said. “But it was our duty to honour their contributions.”

Mukherjee was conferred the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, and Gogoi and Jamir were given Padma Bhushan, the third-highest.

Modi said that his government paid tributes to icons such as freedom fighters Subhas Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, observing that any other dispensation would not have done it, reported PTI.

“...Baba Saheb [Bhimrao] Ambedkar [the architect of the Constitution] got the Bharat Ratna [in 1990] when a government was formed with the BJP’s support,” he said. The prime minister said that the political differences should not come in the way of paying courtesy and respect.

He also paid tribute to Upadhyay and said that the country was realising the Jana Sangh leader’s vision of building a self-reliant India, reported NDTV. “ In 1965, during the Indo-Pak war, India had to depend on foreign countries for weapons,” he said. “Deen Dayal ji had said at that time that we need to build an India that is self-reliant not just in agriculture, but also in defence and weaponry.”

The prime minister said that the self-reliant India campaign was becoming a medium for creating a future for the poor. He said that the focus on the local economy shows how practical and comprehensive Upadhyay’s vision was.

“The entire country is awakened to the idea of Atmanirbhar Bharat [self-reliant India],” he said. “We are on the verge of reaching 75 years of independence. I call upon every one of you to carry out 75 tasks that serve society as a tribute to our 75 years of Independence.” The prime minister also suggested his party MPs and other leaders to make a list of products they use in their daily lives and see if they can do away with foreign products for Indian alternatives.

Modi also said that changes were taking place in every sphere, including infrastructure and the defence sector with a focus on made in India weapons and aircraft such as Tejas.

The prime minister said that India proved its self-reliance amid the coronavirus pandemic as well as provided vaccine to other countries. “In this Covid-19 period, the country displayed the spirit of Antyodaya [empowering the most downtrodden], and cared for our country’s poor,” he said. “With the power of self-reliance, the country has also proved the ‘integral humanism philosophy’ and delivered medicines to the whole world.”

Upadhyaya was born on September 25, 1916, in Mathura. He became the president of the Jana Sangh in December 1967 and died the next year on February 11. His death anniversary is celebrated as “Samarpan Diwas”. Besides Modi, BJP President JP Nadda was present at the event.