Fresh row over singing ‘Vande Mataram’ in Maharashtra

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Mumbai, July 27 (IANS) Kicking off a fresh controversy over “Vande Mataram”, BJP Maharashtra lawmaker Raj Purohit on Thursday announced that he would ask the state government to introduce a policy making the national song’s singing compulsory.

“I will urge Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that Maharashtra should adopt a policy on the lines of the Madras High Court judgement making singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ compulsory,” Purohit told media persons here.

Immediately reacting, state Samajwadi Party President and MLA Abu Asim Azmi said that though he had great respect for ‘Vande Mataram’, he would not sing it under any circumstances, come what may.

“When India was partitioned, nowhere it was said that if we (Muslims) stayed back in India, we would be forced to sing it. You may shoot me or throw me out of the country, but we will not sing it,” he said.

Joining him, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) legislator Waris Pathan declared he would not comply to sing ‘Vande Mataram’ even at gun-point or if a knife was put to his throat.

He said the AIMIM has always opposed it and will continue so if it raised in the legislature.

The two said nobody should be forced to prove their “nationalism” by singing the song and no true Muslim will sing it as Islam does not permit it.

Transport Minister Diwakar Raote, of the Shiv Sena, joined the issue by terming the duo “traitors.”

“They are traitors. They should be aware that ‘Vande Mataram’ symbolises nationalism and our soldiers are laying down their lives for the country. If they feel so ashamed and don’t want to sing, they better go to Pakistan,” Raote said.

In his interactions with media, Purohit said that he would urge the Chief Minister to make a rule making it compulsory to sing ‘Vande Mataram’ in schools, colleges, government offices and other places on the lines of the Madras HC judgement, and even raise the matter in the legislature, if required.

There have been no reactions from the two main Opposition parties — the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party — on the issue so far.

–IANS

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