The issue of singing of Vande Mataram sparked off a big political controversy in Maharashtra with two legislators – Abu Asim Azim of Samajwadi Party and Waris Pathan of Owaisi brothers-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen saying that it cannot be forced on others to prove their sense of nationalism.
Senior BJP legislator Raj Purohit said that he favours Vande Mataram made compulsory in Maharashtra in the wake of the Madras High Court order making singing of Vande Mataram mandatory in schools, government offices, private entities and industries in Tamil Nadu – once every week in schools and once in other places a month.
Speaking to reporters, Purohit said that he would speak to Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on this issue and would urge him to come out with a policy on this issue.
However, when asked about this, both Azmi and Pathan objected. It may be recalled, during the budget session in 2016, Pathan, who is a lawyer by profession, was suspended after he refused to say ‘Bharat mata ki jai’.
Azmi said that the BJP-Shiv Sena government was toeing the line of RSS and polarizing the society. “I am a true follower of Islam and singing Vande Mataram is against my religion and also against the constitution. A true Muslim will never sing,” Azmi said. I don’t care whether you throw me out of the country or shoot me,” said Azmi. “Even at knife point at my throat or gun on my head, I am not going to sing Vande Mataram…we believe in Constitution,” added Pathan.
The Shiv Sena reacted sharply to the comments saying that they were traitors. “They are traitors…they must know that Vande Mataram symbolizes nationalism and for the nation the soldiers are laying down their lives….if they are not ready to sing, they better leave and go to Pakistan,” transport minister and senior Sena leader Diwakar Raote said.