The newly-elected Congress government in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday faced criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party after Vande Mataram was not sung in the Secretariat, reported The Indian Express. The national song was recited at the Secretariat on the first working day of every month during the rule of the BJP government.

Workers of the BJP protested outside the Secretariat on Wednesday, reported ANI.

Rajneesh Agrawal, the state spokesperson for the BJP, said the reciting of the Vande Mataram is organised by the General Administration Department, which is led by Chief Minister Kamal Nath, reported PTI. “Has it been on his direction?” asked Agrawal. “He [Nath] has recently said that he does not care for criticism. Is there going to be a ban on ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ chant (sic).”

Nath told ANI: “The order to recite Vande Mataram in the Secretariat on first day of month has been put on hold. A decision has been taken to implement the order in a new form. Those who do not recite Vande Mataram are not patriots?”

He said the decision was not part of any agenda. “We are not against singing Vande Mataram…It’s wrong to link patriotism and nationalism with a day’s singing of Vande Mataram.”

Nath later added that he would give the song a new form, which would be announced in a few days, Times Now reported. “It is wrong to politicise Vande Mataram,” he said. “I strongly criticise this.”

State minister PC Sharma, however, suggested it was an oversight. “Vande Mataram belongs to both Congress [and] country,” ANI quoted him as saying. “There’s no question of not singing it, we’ll find the reason [and] correct it.”

Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan criticised the change in rule. Chouhan said his BJP government had decided to bring in the tradition as the song is a mantra that “instils sense of patriotism”, reported ANI.

“It’s unfortunate that Congress ended this tradition,” Chouhan said. “I demand [the] Congress government to reintroduce this [and] if they don’t do it, I will sing Vande Mataram with patriots at [the] Vallabh Bhavan [Secretariat]. I’ve decided that I will sing Vande Mataram in the premises at 11 am on January 6.”

Chouhan added that the party’s 109 MLAs would sing Vande Matram at the Secretariat on January 7.