Congress seeks Maharashtra CM’s apology, walks out of assembly

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Mumbai, April 4 (IANS) The opposition Congress on Monday raised in the Maharashtra assembly the issue of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s remarks on ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ issue and sought an apology from him before walking out of the house.

Under opposition fire, Fadnavis defended his statement made at a public meeting in Nashik on Saturday that those who refused to chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ had no right to stay in the country.

“I don’t care whether I remain the chief minister or not… I used to say ‘Bharat mata ki jai’, I still say it and will continue to say it,” Fadnavis said after the Congress sought his apology.

Former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan — who led the opposition onslaught on the government in the assembly — sought to know if Fadnavis had made the remarks in his capacity as the chief minister or a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member.

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Fadnavis retorted that he was the chief minister of the state, but the RSS had taught him nationalism and patriotism, and what he was saying in the house was as per the constitution.

Moving an adjournment motion, leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil accused Fadnavis of creating apprehensions in the minds of minority community’s members who, he said, were forced to prove their patriotism by such remarks.

He said the chief minister’s statement that everybody chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ was not right, and he sought to divert public attention from the real problems plaguing the state.

Vikhe-Patil accused him of repeatedly politicising the issue, and demanded an apology from Fadnavis before the Congress walked out of the house amid a din.

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Fadnavis defended his remarks and said there was no dispute since it is not related to any particular religion or caste. He praised 500 Muslim clerics who not only hoisted the Tricolor at the Mahim Dargah but also chanted ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ on March 27, the 603rd urs of Hazrat Makhdum Fateh Ali Mahimi.

He said that at the Wagah border near Amritsar in Punjab, Indian soldiers only sing the national song ‘Vande Mataram’ and chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’, and said that chanting of pro-India slogans was being deliberately linked to a particular religion to create a rift between different communities.

After his remark kicked up a row, Fadnavis on Sunday clarified: “We have absolutely no problem if somebody says ‘Jai Hind’ or ‘Jai Bharat’ or ‘Jai Hindustan’, but we object when someone refused to say ‘Bharati mata ki jai… the slogan has nothing to do with religion, but is about patriotism and love for the country.”

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