Devendra Fadnavis
Approval to the application was granted following a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Picture: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis during the Make in India Week function, in Mumbai on Feb. 17, 2016.IANS

People who refuses to chant "Bharat Mata ki Jai" have no right to live in India, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said Sunday. His statement was criticised by the chief imam of All India Imam Organisation (AIIO), while the Congress slammed the BJP for appropriating the slogan for "political gains."

"Some people say we will not say 'Bharat Mata ki Jai.' Then what? Pakistan ki jai or China ki jai? If you want to live in this country then you have to say 'Bharat Mata ki Jai,' otherwise you have no right to live here," Asian News International (ANI) quoted Fadnavis as saying at a public meeting.

He said "hundreds of Muslim priests chanted 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'" when he went to a Mazar in Mumbai. "Those who say 'Bharat ke tukde honge' will fail," he added.

AIIO chief imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi said people holding responsible positions should not be making such remarks.

"No one has a right to decide as to who would live in this country or not. If you force certain things on people then it would give rise to hatred. People on such responsible positions should refrain from making such statement, [sic]" Ilyasi told ANI.

The Congress also slammed Fadnavis and the BJP for appropriating 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and creating a "false sense of national identity."

"This is a completely irrelevant thing. It's a non-issue. The BJP is trying to make this into a controversial issue to try and show themselves to be great nationalists or patriots. The BJP and its predecessors had no role in the independence struggle. Its leaders once jailed actually wrote apology to the government, [sic]" Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit told ANI.

Dikshit further said the Maharashtra chief minister has not been able to do his job efficiently even as the state faces several problems.

"The BJP came fourth in the local elections. So, quite clearly they are about to lose that state. If elections are held today, the Maharashtra Government will be wiped out. So how else do you comeback in popular support if you can't by creating all these controversies," he said.

The nationalism debate that raged over the alleged anti-India sloganeering at the Jawaharlal Nehru University took a new turn with the BJP questioning those refusing to chant "Bharat Mata ki Jai." As the debate escalated, Darul Uloom in Deoband Friday issued a fatwa against chanting of the slogan.

"Bharat Mata, according to some Hindu sects, is a goddess and they worship her. For Muslims participating in worshipping a goddess would be un-Islamic," the fatwa said.

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