Have not disrespected my country, says suspended AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan

Mumbai: Amid high drama, AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan was on Wednesday suspended from Maharashtra Assembly for refusing to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ after it adopted a unanimous resolution, escalating the row over chanting this slogan triggered by his party boss.

Taking a cue from his party chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who said he won’t chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ even if a knife was put to his throat, Pathan said, “We will say ‘Jai Hind’ but not ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and there cannot be any compulsion.”

Owaisi had made the remark while rejecting RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s suggestion for chanting the slogan to infuse patriotism. Actor Anupam Kher also waded into the row, saying, “The only definition of NATIONALISM for Bharatwasis should be “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. Rest all are escape routes.:)”.

Pathan, who represents Byculla seat in South Mumbai, will not be allowed to attend the proceedings of the House till the end of ongoing Budget session. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat said, “Pathan was suspended from Assembly for showing disrespect to national heroes and refusal to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai'”.

The drama unfolded began when All India Majlis-e- Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLA from Aurangabad, Imtiaz Jaleel was speaking on the debate on the Governor’s address in the Assembly.

Jaleel said the government should not spend taxpayers’ money on building memorials of ‘great personalities’. A Shiv Sena MLA interjected, saying Jaleel’s party leader Asaduddin Owaisi had recently stated that he will not chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (hail mother India). To this, Pathan said, “We will say ‘Jai Hind’ but not Bharat Mata Ki Jai. There cannot be compulsion on saying ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. The Constitution does not say this”.

Immediately after his remarks, the legislators from ruling BJP and Shiv Sena and other opposition parties including Congress and NCP began making demand for the suspension of AIMIM legislators from the House.

Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse said the AIMIM MLAs should apologise but his suggestion was shot down by angry members of the House, who, setting aside political differences, sought their suspension.

Bapat said he will table a resolution seeking the approval of the House for suspension of AIMIM MLAs, after which the House was adjourned for 10 minutes It was again adjourned three more times amid noisy scenes.

When the proceedings resumed, Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil tabled the resolution, seeking suspension of Pathan, which was approved unanimously.

“Pathan has misused freedom of speech, violated Parliamentary traditions and insulted ‘Bharat Mata (Mother India),” the minister said, adding the resolution was tabled keeping with the sentiments of the House.

“During his suspension period, Pathan won’t be able to attend House proceedings and won’t be allowed near Vidhan Bhawan premises,” Patil said.

Speaker Haribhau Bagade informed the House that the resolution was adopted unanimously. Later talking to reporters, Pathan sought justice, saying,” I have not disrespected my country”. “I am proud of having been born in this country and god willing will be buried in the very earth here. I have not disrespected my country. And I cannot think of doing so. Jai Hind. Jai Bharat. Jai Maharashtra.”