Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said singing 'Vande Mataram' was a "matter of choice" and those refusing to sing it could not be dubbed as anti- nationals.
"Singing Vande Mataram is absolutely an individual's choice. Those who want to sing can sing it, those who don't, may not. Not singing it does not make one anti-national," said the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Parliamentary Affairs and Minority Affairs, who was in the city for an event, speaking to PTI.
He added that however, if someone deliberately opposed the singing of the national song, written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, it was "in bad taste" and "not in the interest of the country".
"Singing Vande Mataram is absolutely an individual's choice. Those who want to sing can sing it, those who don't, may not."
Sparks flew in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly yesterday as the ruling BJP MLAs slammed Samajwadi Party's Abu Asim Azmi, who opposed a demand for making the singing of 'Vande Mataram' mandatory in the schools and colleges of the state.
Citing a recent Madras High Court order, which made singing of 'Vande Mataram' mandatory in the Tamil Nadu schools, BJP MLA Raj Purohit said it should be followed by the schools and colleges in Maharashtra as well.
Azmi said he would not sing 'Vande Mataram' even if he was "thrown out of the country", while AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan said he would not sing it "even if a revolver is put to my head".
Speaking at Shirdi, state PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil today said no one should have a problem saying 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'.
Meanwhile, commenting on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's return to the NDA-fold, Naqvi described the JD(U) chief as "a natural ally of the BJP".
"It does not matter whom he (Kumar) had criticised (when he had parted ways with the NDA). The BJP will support anybody who is against corruption and interested in good governance," the Union minister said.