A significant controversy has arisen over a Maharashtra Samajwadi Party MLA’s decision not to recite “Vande Mataram” due to religious grounds.
Facing criticism from the rival BJP, Abu Asim Azmi, the Samajwadi Party MLA, defended his stance, stating that not saying the patriotic phrase “does not diminish my respect for my country and my patriotism, and no one should object to this.”
In a Hindi tweet, he emphasized the contributions of his forefathers to the nation and reiterated his commitment to India as his country, not Pakistan. Mr. Azmi cited Islamic teachings of showing reverence to the Creator of the world as the reason behind his choice.
The MLA expressed that his religious beliefs do not lessen his love for the country, emphasizing that he and his community are as much a part of India as anyone else.
Abu Asim Azmi is also upset over what he perceives as the ruling BJP-led alliance’s lack of action against those who delivered hate speeches at Sakal Hindu Samaj meetings.
In response, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla criticized Mr. Azmi for disrespecting the nation and tied the controversy to the formation of the opposition bloc for the 2024 elections, known as I.N.D.I.A. (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance), of which the Samajwadi Party is a member.
Mr. Poonawalla’s tweet questioned whether Mr. Azmi’s refusal to say “Vande Mataram” aligned with the idea of I.N.D.I.A. or was deemed anti-India. The issue has sparked intense debates and reactions across political lines.