New Delhi, March 19: The BJP on Saturday invoked the issue of 'nationalism', as its two-day National Executive began here, and categorically stated that the party was not going to tolerate criticism of the country in the name of freedom of expression.
"The Left parties and the Congress are questioning our commitment to freedom of expression.
Criticism of the party, leader and government is fully permissible but criticism of the nation shall not be acceptable," union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad quoting party president Amit Shah as saying in his address at the national executive at the NDMC convention centre here.
Shah reminded the Congress of the Emergency, saying it crushed the voices of the common people during the period.
"What cruel behaviour was there during Emergency, no one can forget. Why does the Congress party and its vice president Rahul Gandhi not say anything about it?" Shah asked.
He took a dig at the Left parties for accusing the government of suppressing freedom of expression.
"Those who worship Maoism and follow Stalin are talking about freedom of speech and expression," he said.
Shah also spoke on the recent controversy of chanting "Bharat Mata Ki Jai", which erupted after MIM leader and Lok Sabha member Asadudduin Owaisi refused to say it.
"Chanting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' is in the country since the days of independence. So, after 68 years of freedom, the country will debate whether it should be chanted or not?" he asked.
Shah praised the work of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also hailed the budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
"The programmes initiated by the Modi government have proven to be a game-changer. This success of the Modi government must be conveyed to the people of India," he said.
The BJP chief also hailed Modi for taking the country to new heights through its foreign policy.Shah accused the Congress of creating hurdles before the Modi government and asked BJP cadres to reach out to the masses and explain to them this "anti-development approach" of the opposition party.
"The Congress asks us what the Modi government has done so far. I would like to say, we have given a corruption-free government, dynasty-free democratic leadership and stability with hope," Shah said.
Shah hoped that the party will perform better in the upcoming assembly elections.
"The BJP is rising even in unknown territories. We are a serious player in the coming elections," he said.