Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said on Tuesday that if the slogan ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ meant ‘Janta Ki Jai’, he was ready to be part of the rhetoric which has become a hot button issue in the country.
“I don’t have to wait for khaki knicker-clad men to tell me. We are chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ for a long time, but along with Jai Hind and Jai Bharat,” the former Union Minister said on the sidelines of a training session of his party here.
Aiyar recalled that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had written in his book ‘Discovery of India’ that during electioneering in villages, people welcomed him with ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. Nehru had asked them what this ‘Jai’ (praise) was? Whether it was a tree, mountain or earth? In the end he had summed up “Bharat Mata Ki Jai as Janta Ki Jai,” he said.
Without naming BJP or RSS, Aiyar said if they meant ‘Janta Ki Jai’ by saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, then he was ready to be a part of it.
Mentioning Subhash Chandra Bose, he said the freedom fighter had named his group as ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ (Indian National Army). He didn’t name his fighting unit as Swatantra Bharat Sena because he wanted to connect all the people (irrespective of their religion) with freedom struggle.
“If these goons threaten to thrash me thrash me, behead me if I don’t chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai, what type of nationalism is this?” he asked.
“If these people are really nationalists, they should work for the people by empowering Panchayat Raj institutions,” he said.
Taking a dig at the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, he said the officers and sarpanchs were running the entire show of three-tier panchayat system in the state. The panchayat have been divested of power and stripped off infrastructure in MP, he said.
Aiyar said his party values Panchayati Raj and will make it a major poll plank in the next Assembly polls.