New Delhi, March 21: The nationalism debate escalated today with opposition parties slamming BJP's "insistence" on 'Bharat Mata ki jai' as the only way to express this as an "unfortunate replay" of Hitler's tactics, prompting the ruling party to say opposing the slogan amounted to treason.
The opposition parties also accused BJP of stoking the issue of nationalism to shroud its "failure" in keeping promises.
The BJP on its part maintained that "opposing" Bharat Mata "for sure" falls in the category of treason and made a strong pitch for "instilling" feeling of nationalism as "some people" have habit of "eulogising" anti-nationalists like Afzal Guru.
"Hindusthan Zindabad, Jai Hind and Inquilab Zindabad are nationalism. So, nationalism can be expressed in various forms. "Now to insist nationalism means only the slogan (Bharat Mata ki jai) that they want people to give is very very clearly an unfortunate replay of how (Adolf) Hitler used nationalism for the rise of fascism in Germany," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
Rajya Sabha Opposition Leader Ghulam Nabi Azad ridiculed the BJP and said it should be the "last party" to talk about nationalism. He stated people of the country are "clever" and understand that the debate is allegedly being stoked to divert their attention from BJP's "failure" in keeping poll promises of employment, development and price rise among others.
"But they have totally, miserably failed. So the only agenda left with them is to divert the attention of people from such issues," the senior Congress leader added. JD(U) leader Pawan Verma seconded Azad and said the issue is being escalated also in view of forthcoming assembly polls in five states.
AAP leader Ashutosh targeted the BJP, saying it had never taken part in country's freedom struggle and hence, is "trying to wear" nationalism on its sleeves and forehead "to prove" its patriotism. BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria also joined the chorus of attack, charging the BJP with holding "narrow and sectarian" views. Countering the opposition, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister and senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said there is a need to instill feeling of nationalism as "some people" have objections to chant 'Bharat Mata ki jai' and have the "habit of eulogising" anti-nationalist like Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon.
"They are being eulogising, you are holding festivals for them and questioning unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country. So, there is a need to instill a feeling of nationalism. Why should anyone have objection on saluting motherland?" he asked and said he is ready to debate on the issue.
Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said chanting 'Bharat Mata ki jai' is not a "certificate of nationalism", but "opposing, abusing and criticising 'Bharat Mata' does fall under category of "treason".
"It is not a certificate of nationalism to chant Bharat Mata ki jai. But opposing, abusing, criticising Bharat Mata for sure falls in the category of treason, this they should understand," he said.
The BJP had yesterday said freedom of expression does not give a right to seek the country's destruction even as the issue found the pride of place in the political resolution adopted at its National Executive meeting here.