Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, on Saturday said that singing ‘Vande Mataram’ was an “individual’s choice” and those who do not sing the National Song cannot be termed anti-national.
Talking to PTI, Naqvi said,
Singing Vande Mataram is absolutely an individual’s choice. Those who want to sing can sing it, those who don’t, may not. Not singing it does not make one anti-national.
The minister further said that if someone purposely opposes singing of the national song, then it was “in bad taste” and “not in the interest of the country”.
The row surrounding ‘Vande Matarm’ arose last week as Madras High Court ordered that the national song of India must be sung and played in all schools, colleges and universities across the state at least once a week. The court in its order also said that the National Song must be sung in all government and private companies at least once a month. However, the court had also held that any person who finds it difficult to sing the song, or does not sing it for valid reasons, would not be forced to sing it.
On August 25, the Supreme Court of India will also be hearing a petition to make it mandatory for schools to sing ‘Vande Mataram’.
Following the order by Madras High Court, BJP legislator, Raj Purohit asserted that singing ‘Vande Matarm’ must be made compulsory in the state of Maharashtra as well. Responding to this, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi and Waris Pathan of Owaisi brothers-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen said that singing ‘Vande Mataram’ cannot be forced upon people.
Commenting on the issue, Azmi had said last week that he was a true follower of Islam and singing ‘Vande Matarm’ was against his religion and the constitution. At the same time, Waris Pathan had said that he would not sing ‘Vande Matarm’ even if a knife was at his throat or gun to his head.
Predictably, BJP MLAs and the Shiv Sena castigated the two leaders for their statements.