The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday made it clear that it would not tolerate criticism of the nation in the name of freedom of expression, though anybody has the liberty to criticise a person, a party or the government.

Giving his presidential address at the two-day meeting of the National Executive, which began here on Saturday, BJP president Amit Shah sought to position his party’s stand clearly on the issue saying, criticism of the nation is “plainly unacceptable”.

He made a scathing attack on the Congress and the Left in context of the JNU incident. “Congress, which clamped Emergency and jailed many people, including media persons, is  questioning us about freedom of expression. Does Congress publicly repent what it did during the Emergency,” said senior party leader and Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, quoting Amit Shah’s address.

Shah also said that those who talk about Maoism and Stalin are ironically lecturing about freedom of expression.

On the JNU incident, in which some students raised anti-national slogans last month, Shah said anti-national activities cannot be justified in the name of freedom of expression. He wondered why Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who visited the university, batted for freedom of expression but did not condemn the anti-national slogans.

Talking about the ongoing controversy over the chanting of “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, Shah said this was being done even before the birth of the Sangh (RSS) and the BJP. “Hundreds of people, who had love for the nation, sacrificed their lives for saying this and it is disgusting that people are discussing it after 68 years of Independence,” he said.

Taking a dig at the Congress, Shah said it was blocking the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Bill for ego and political reasons. “They ask what Modi government has given to the country. I would say this government has given a corruption-free country, dyanasty-free democratic government and stability and hope. Every decision is being taken with honesty, transparency and objectivity,” he said.

The BJP chief said his party will contest the coming Assembly elections, including in Assam, West Bengal and Kerala, as a “serious player”. Condemning attacks on party workers in Kerala and West Bengal, he said the more the suppression, the stronger the party would emerge.

The two-day event will discuss current political situation and take stock of the organisational issues, besides fine-tuning the party’s strategy for the upcoming Assembly polls in five states. Political and economic resolutions will also be adopted. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the concluding session on Sunday.

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