In a heated television debate over the Hyderabad civic polls, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi was asked to “prove his patriotism” for India by not objecting to “Vande Mataram” and “Saraswati Vandana” by BJP parliamentarian Sudhanshu Trivedi on Saturday.

The BJP leader was adamant on comparing Owaisi to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. “If he wants us to believe that he is like Abul Kalam Azad (who was an Indian activist and was against the partition of India), he should not object to ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Saraswati Vandana’,” Trivedi said.

The Rajya Sabha member not only likened Owaisi to Jinnah repeatedly but also refused to comment on anchor Anjana Om Kashyap’s questions on the BJP’s pre-poll statement that Old Hyderabad needs a “surgical strike”.

Owaisi said, “I am not dependent on the BJP to certify my patriotism. I am loyal to India, and will continue to remain so,” he said. He also reminded Trivedi that at the time of partition, not all Muslims voted in favour of Jinnah’s plan of dividing the country because not all Muslims were eligible to vote, only the rich could.

Watch the full debate here.