22/03/2016 8:02 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

A Sikh Politician Explains Why He Can't Chant 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'

Sikh leader Simranjit Singh Mann, center, raises a sword and shouts religious slogans inside the Golden Temple complex, in Amritsar, India, Friday, July 21, 2006. Head priest of Akal Takht, Sikhs supreme religious temporal seat, on Tuesday lifted a ban imposed on Mann from holding meetings and functions at gurdwaras, or Sikh temple, for not observing the sanctity of the Golden Temple on July 2. (AP Photo/Aman Sharma)

A Sikh politician has come up with a unique reason for refusing to chant 'Bharat Mata ki jai' — he said that his religion doesn't permit worshipping women, and even though he respects 'Bharat Mata', no Sikh could worship her.

"We (Sikhs) can say 'Bharat Mata ki fateh' but not 'jai' because that would make us Hindus," Simranjit Singh Mann, president of Shiromani Akali Dal's Amritsar wing, said yesterday.

Sikh religion doesn't include any form of idol-worship, as Sikhs exclusively follow the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib and believe in one "rab" (God).

"Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley, have all said that those who won't chant 'Bharat Mata ki jai' can't be patriotic, and a case will be pursued against them like it happened in the Maharashtra assembly against a Muslim MLA," he said. "Even Congress, which always claims to have no religious bias, took the BJP's and Sena's side and allowed the MLA to be ousted."

"We can't do this. We respect the Mata but we can't worship her. Sikhs should say ‘Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh’."

The issue of chanting 'Bharat Mata ki jai' has already rankled several Indians, as the slogan has Hindu nationalist roots. A Maharashtra MLA and member of India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Waris Pathan, was suspended from the state assembly last week for saying he won't chant the slogan.

“The Constitution does not say it. We will say Jai Hind. We won’t chant 'Bharat Mata ki jai'," Pathan said in the assembly.


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(Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly named the AIMIM member suspended from Maharashtra assembly as Asaduddin Owaisi, instead of Waris Pathan. The error is regretted.)

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