Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Monday came in for flak from non-Bharatiya Janata Party parties for his suggestion that all Hindustanis are Hindus with many leaders wondering if he has read the Constitution and really believes in it.
Congress leader Manish Tewari said Bhagwat would be well-advised to read the Constitution which very specifically states that India is Bharat, a union of state, and the word "Hindustan" is nowhere mentioned.
Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M) said Bhagwat should make it clear if he believes in Constitution.
"He should make it clear if he believes in it. In our Constitution, the country is Bharat not Hindustan," he told media persons.
Janata Dal-United President Sharad Yadav said India has come so far since independence by keeping its faith in the Constitution and its future lies in following the same course.
Bahujan Samaj Party Chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati while slamming Bhagwat said he does not have "proper knowledge" of the Constitution.
"When Ambedkar ji (Bhimrao Ambedkar) wrote the Constitution he kept in mind that our country comprises various religions and people follow them. So the name Bharat was given, the word Hindustan was not used. The RSS chief does not have proper knowledge of the Constitution. He should learn that and then comment," she said.
Father Savrimuthu of Archdiocese of Delhi expressed concern over Bhagwat's comments, saying India is a pluralistic country but the RSS head has tried to put everybody under one umbrella.
"Our nation is great and known for unity and diversity... Now you (RSS) are trying to make one nation, one religion, one culture, trying to put everybody under one umbrella which is not right," he said.
Seeking to downplay the row over Bhagwat's comments, BJP leader Vinay katiyar said, "what he (Bhagwat) meant by 'Hindu' was 'Hindustani'. He never spoke about interfering in religious practices of people."
Bhagwat had on Sunday asked if inhabitants of England are English, Germany are Germans and USA are Americans then why all inhabitants of Hindustan are not known as Hindus.
"The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture," Bhagwat said while speaking at the 'Golden Jubilee' function of an Odia weekly in Bhubaneswar.
The RSS chief further went on to say that Hindutva is a way of life and Hindus could be of any religion worshipping any God or not worshipping at all.