MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: Rebuffing RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's suggestion, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi has said he will not chant 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' even if a knife is put to his throat.
Owaisi's assertion days after Bhagwat said the new generation needs to be taught to chant slogans hailing mother India drew sharp condemnation from both the RSS and the BJP today while he stood by his statement made at a public rally.
"I don't chant that slogan. What are you going to do, Bhagwat sahab," the Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad said at the rally in Udgir tehsil of Latur district in Maharashtra yesterday. "I won't utter that (slogan) even if you put a knife to my throat," Owaisi said, amid loud applause from the crowd. "Nowhere in the Constitution it says that one should say: 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'," he said.
On March 3, Bhagwat had said the new generation needs to be taught to chant slogans hailing mother India, comments which came against the backdrop of the row over alleged anti-India sloganeering on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus. "Now the time has come when we have to tell the new generation to chant 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' (hail mother India). It should be real, spontaneous and part of all-round development of the youth," the RSS chief had said.
Asked by reporters to comment on the condemnation of his statement, Owaisi said he stood by it, asserting there is no violation of any law or Constitution in what he said.
"Whom is he (Bhagwat) trying to frighten? He can't force his ideology on others," he said.
Ratan Sharda, author and RSS ideologue, accused Owaisi of playing politics on national feelings and asked, "If you say I love my mother then what is the problem."
BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh also accused Owaisi of trying to provoke nationalist sentiments, describing his statement as "highly condemnable".
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said statements like that made by Owaisi should be "completely avoided".