Union Minister Smriti Irani Tuesday opined that the "controversy" sparked by AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi’s remark over "Bharat Mata ki Jai" highlights "the kind of challenging times we are passing through" and wondered where else ‘Bharat Mata’ will be hailed if not in India. 

"What (Bharat mata) we pray to and worship is a subject of controversy for some people. This itself is a matter of worry and shows us the kind of challenging times we are passing through… As a citizen, I do feel that if Bharat Mata is not hailed in India then where else she would be hailed," she told reporters. 

Irani’s remarks came when she was asked about the "controversy" over the issue. 

After Hindutva organisation RSS said the young should be taught chanting the slogan, Owaisi asserted that he would not do so even if a knife is put at his throat. 

Attacking Owaisi, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said in Kolkata that those who do not want to raise the slogan had no right to stay in India.