Haryana Minister Anil Vij on Sunday stirred a controversy saying that the popular Hindi song 'Sabarmati ke Sant' portrayed an inaccurate picture of India's freedom struggle and claimed that its lyrics were an "insult" to many martyrs whose contribution it ignored.
Referring to the lyrics, "De di humein azadi bina khadag bina dhaal, Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamal (O saint of Sabarmati, you have given us freedom without using scimitars or shields)," Vij said the song did not mention those who waged an armed struggle against foreign rule.
Vij made his comments at a function held at the Subhash Park in Ambala Cantt yesterday. The park is named after Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The reference to the song came up when the role of various freedom fighters in the country's independence movement was being mentioned.
The minister said the lyrics of the song did not make any mention of the large number of freedom fighters who launched an armed struggle to free the country.
"It does not portray a true picture," the Haryana health minister said.
Vij said that Bose and his Azad Hind Fauj, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Rajguru, Sukhdev and others were among those who fought to throw out the Britishers.
There were many others who sacrificed their lives for the country, he said.
Vij alleged that the film song misguided people and was an "insult" to the large number of martyrs who laid down their lives fighting British rulers.
"Rajguru, Sukhdev, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Netaji Bose and his Azad Hind Fauj fought against the British empire. At that time it used to be said that sun never sets on the British empire, but they fought against them without caring about their lives.
"Besides, a large number of other freedom fighters made sacrifices for the sake of the country's freedom. But when we say 'De di hamein azadi bina khadag bina dhal' then it is an insult to those martyrs," Vij said.
Slamming Vij for his remarks, the opposition Congress alleged that the minister was a "loose cannon" who often made "irresponsible" statements.
"He is a loose cannon. He is in the habit of making irresponsible statements. This is not the first time that he has tried to insult Mahatma Gandhi ji as earlier this year too he had done the same thing. Rather than making such comments, he should focus on his ministry and try to make improvements there," Congress MP from Rohtak, Deepinder Singh Hooda, said.
The song from 1954 film 'Jagriti' is dedicated to Gandhi, who espoused non-violence.
The senior BJP leader, a five-time MLA from Ambala Cantt, is no stranger to controversies.
In January this year, Vij had courted controversy with remarks that Gandhi's image did not help Khadi and had caused devaluation of the currency.
Vij had said that it was good that Gandhi's image was replaced with that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the calendar and diary of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) as Modi was a "better brand". He went on to add that Gandhi's image would be removed gradually from the currency notes too.
However, the minister later withdrew these remarks after massive outrage and even the BJP condemning them.
"The statement given by me in connection with Mahatma Gandhi was given in my personal capacity. To avoid hurting anyone's sentiments, I am withdrawing it," the minister had tweeted after the controversy erupted.