mid the Opposition din over his statement that those refusing to chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ had no right to stay in India, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis hit back accusing the Congress-led Opposition of indulging in politics of appeasement and declared he will proudly chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ even if it costs him the chief ministership.
Mr Fadnavis’s statement at a public meeting in Nashik on Friday rocked the Legislative Assembly on Monday, with Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil moving an adjournment motion claiming that minorities were being put to a test of patriotism over the slogan and demanded an apology from him.
“The CM’s statement on everyone chanting ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ is not right. There are so many issues plaguing the state but the CM is focusing on these statements and minorities are being forced to prove their patriotism by chanting the slogans. This is to divert people’s attention from real issues,” Mr Vikhe-Patil said.
As Opposition MLAs waved the national flag in the House and demanded an apology from Mr Fadnavis, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse accused some of them of holding the flag upside down and sought action against them.
Mr Fadnavis said the Opposition would not have raised this issue had they heard his Nashik speech. “I said ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ is not a contentious issue. This is not a religious slogan. I gave the example that I personally attended the 603rd Urs of Maqdoom Shah Baba dargah, who first explained Quran Sharif to people when Islam came to India. In my speech, I said that during the Urs, 500 highly respected Muslim clerics unfurled the tricolour and chanted ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ . ”
He added, “Those who refuse to say ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ and intentionally link it to a religion have malafide intentions. They don’t love this country. I also said Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians don’t have any objection to say Bharat mata ki jai. Some people deliberately want to divide society and that’s why they are trying to put the slogan into another context. Those who don’t love this country have no place in this country,” a defiant Mr Fadnavis told the House.
Referring to Javed Akhtar’s speech in the Rajya Sabha, Mr Fadnavis said, “Javed Akhtar said it is my right to say ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ and nobody can snatch it from me. That’s why I’m saying this is not a religious issue. When we question this slogan in this manner, imagine how it will impact the soldiers fighting for the country at the Wagah border and thousands of freedom fighters who chanted ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ . ”
Former CM Prithviraj Chavan of the Congress demanded to know if Mr Fadnavis had made the statement as the Chief Minister of the state or as an RSS activist. “The CM should clarify. The Constitution and citizenship laws will decide who will stay or not stay in this country,” Chavan said.
Mr Fadnavis said the RSS had taught him to be a nationalist and there was no need to bring up his links with the RSS. “I have spoken against those who act against this country, not against any individual, any community or any religion. I want to ask Prithviraj Chavan, if I say those who don’t love this country have no right to stay here, what wrong did I do? Are you saying that those who don’t love this country should be allowed to stay? These issues are being discussed only to please the (Congress) high command,” he said, urging the Speaker to not allow members to waste time over this issue.
He pointed out that when the AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan had refused to say Bharat mata ki jai, the ruling party and the Opposition had jointly objected to it and got him suspended him from the House. “When an MLA refused to chant the slogan, all members including you suspended him. Today, only for votes, please don’t try to create a controversy. I feel pained that the Opposition walkout is only to appease minorities. Minorities are nationalists and they are willing to say ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. If you want to play politics, then irrespective of whether I remain CM or not, I will continue to chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’,” Mr Fadnavis said amid pandemonium.
Former CM Prithviraj Chavan asked if Fadnavis spoke as
the Chief Minister or an RSS activist