Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi defended his act of refusing to say "Vande Mataram"
A huge controversy has broken out over a Maharashtra Samajwadi Party MLA's refusal to say "Vande Mataram" on the grounds of his religion.
In his pushback to criticism by the rival BJP, Abu Asim Azmi, the Samajwadi Party MLA, pointed out that not saying Vande Mataram "does not reduce my respect for my country and my patriotism, and no one should have any objection to this."
"We are the ones whose forefathers gave their lives for this country; we are the ones who considered India as their country and not Pakistan. Islam teaches us to bow down before the one who created this whole world," Mr Azmi tweeted in Hindi.
"According to my religion, if I cannot recite Vande Mataram, then it does not reduce my respect for my country and my patriotism, and no one should have any objection to this. We are as much of this country as you are," he tweeted.
The Samajwadi Party MLA is upset over alleged inaction by the ruling BJP-led alliance in Maharashtra against those who gave hate speeches in meetings of the Sakal Hindu Samaj.
BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla hit back at Mr Azmi for disrespecting the nation, and linked the controversy to the formation of the opposition bloc for 2024, called I.N.D.I.A. or Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. The Samajwadi Party is part of the newly formed alliance.
"Abu Azmi of SP (Samajwadi Party) says I won't say Vande Mataram. I won't bow my head as my religion doesn't allow. Is this idea of I.N.D.I.A? Or is this anti-India?" Mr Poonawalla tweeted.
"SP is a part of this alleged I.N.D.I.A. India in name but not in agenda. Earlier, SP released terrorists and patronised Yakub, Afzal. The Congress questioned the surgical strike and Balakote (airtrike), and 26 the /11 Mumbai terror attacks were blamed on India, not Pakistan. This is their true face. Will Mamata (Banerjee) di, (Mallikarjun) Kharge ji , Rahul (Gandhi) ji tell us their stand ?" the BJP spokesperson tweeted.
The assembly was adjourned following noisy protests by BJP MLAs over the comment by Mr Azmi.
Speaker Rahul Narwekar asked the MLAs to calm down, but when they did not obey, he adjourned the assembly.