Bharatiya Janata Party National General Secretary Ram Madhav claimed on Thursday that German dictator Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini were the “products of democracy”, PTI reported. He made the remark at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi.

Taking a swipe at Opposition parties, Madhav said that those who lost in the democratic process – a reference to elections – converted the streets into a democratic forum and indulged in violence. He was referring to the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which have so far taken 26 lives, including 19 in Uttar Pradesh alone.

Madhav asserted that Indian democracy is “non-discriminatory” as it allows outsiders to become citizens after different periods of stay. Madhav made the remark while responding to audience questions about the protests.

Asked if India was moving towards an “undemocratic democracy”, Madhav said India has a good and vibrant Constitution, and the BJP is “wedded to it”. He said Indian democracy will only further progress, and will mature.

Madhav said that the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in the “most democratic manner” and added that the government responded to criticism of the Act during the debate in Parliament. “The government is duty-bound to respond to criticism sans violence,” Madhav said. He asserted that those who have a different view should express it through the right forum and in the right manner.

“Getting depressed and claiming that Indian democracy is going to the dogs, that you have to keep aside,” the BJP leader said. “In India, governments are changed at the drop of a hat. Nobody is permanent in a democracy.”

Madhav claimed that for democracy to succeed, it has to truly represent the people, and embrace a particular culture. “Otherwise you give democracy to a given country, take it from me, Osama bin Laden posthumously can become the president,” he said. “You need to nurture a value system in that society.”

Madhav said India has always promoted democratic values in the region. He added, however, that democracy should not be used as a “political stick or political weapon” against any other country.

The citizenship law approved by Parliament on December 11 and notified on January 10, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it.