All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi said on Saturday that he only objected to using the slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” as a test of loyalty to the country, adding that the Constitution does not mention it. In an interview with dna, Owaisi also alleged that it was a message to Muslims to accept Hindutva. “I worship Allah, but my loyalty lies with India,” he said, adding that he was “not against Hindus, but Hindutva”.

Reacting to AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan’s suspension from the Maharashtra Assembly for refusing to say the slogan, Owaisi said it was the first time “in the history of Parliamentary democracy” that a member was suspended “under no rule described in the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha”. Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah, too, said on Saturday that chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” should not be considered a test of nationalism, although he had no problem saying it, The Indian Express reported. “I know what I feel for my nation; I don’t need to prove it to anyone by raising slogans,” Abdullah said.

However, Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah said a slogan like “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, which is associated with the freedom struggle, is not a subject open to debate, according to a report in The Times of India. “Yeh behas hi beimani hai (This is debate in itself is a betrayal),” he said, adding that waving the national flag and voicing such slogans were a “natural expressions of nationalism”.

In another development, Muslim seminary Jamia Nizamia in Hyderabad has issued a fatwa against chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, saying the slogan was un-Islamic and irrational. It added that to treat India as a mother was an individual belief and that the view cannot be imposed on others, IBN Live reported.