Chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ in public is a matter of choice, former Union law minister and Congress leader Salman Khurshid said on Monday, in remarks that come against the backdrop of Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s suggestion that the new generation needed to be taught to hail mother India.
"It gives us pride when we sing national anthem, to see our flag, to say ‘Vande Matram’… Some people don’t want to do it, it’s their choice," Khurshid said after addressing a conference on ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression in Universities’.
His remarks came in the wake of a controversy fuelled by AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi who said he will not chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ even if a knife is put to his throat.
Asked whether he might be booked for sedition for his remarks, Khurshid said the matter should be left got the courts to decide.
"The whole issue of sedition is becoming hotly debated.
Let’s just leave it to the courts of the country to decide," he said.
Besides Khurshid, the conference was attended by former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and former MP Girija Vyyas.
"It is a paradoxical situation because we live in democracy and we see the rules of dictatorship being imposed.
The difference between Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is of dictatorial and democratic. We love dissent and they hate dissent," Kumar said.
Several speakers criticised the government’s measures to revamp the education system including the recently launched Choice Based Credit System and were opposed to the Central Universities Act because it required all universities to follow a common syllabus.
"When our universities will be deprived of how to frame a syllabus, how new ideas will emerge. Private universities have been left out of this ambit and they will be able to present new courses whereas our universities have been regimented to teach a particular course. This is the greatest attack on the university system," Aditya Narayan, Vice Chairman AICC’s Vichar Vibhag said.
He said independent and autonomous bodies like executive council and academic council have become "rubber stamps" to the dictates of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (HRD) and UGC.