With actor Aamir Khan joining the intolerance debate, the Bharatiya Janata Party insisted that some isolated extreme incidents should not be allowed to define India and took a dig at his wife's suggestion to leave India, saying people move out for many reasons, including for saving taxes.
Addressing a press conference, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain slammed Aamir Khan for saying he has been "alarmed" by a number of incidences and his wife Kiran Rao even suggested that they should probably leave the country.
Hitting back at the Bollywood superstar, Shahnawaz said though Aamir is free to express his views, he should also remember that it is the same country which has bestowed immense love, respect and wealth on him.
“No country is better than India for Muslims,” Shahnawaz asserted, adding, "Aamir will not get a better country than India to live and a Hindu as his neighbour".
“Where will one go after leaving this country, wherever in the world you go, you will find intolerance,” he added.
The ruling party also reminded Khan that his last movie 'PK' was a resounding box office success despite protests by some right wing outfits, stressing that it was a example of how tolerant Indian society is.
"Aamir Khan is the face of 'Incredible India', how can he make such a remark? I request Aamir Khan not to leave India and he won't find another nation like it?" said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
Backing Patra, his party colleague and MP Manoj Tiwari said, "It is unfortunate that Aamir Khan says intolerance is on the rise in India. What has India not given to Aamir Khan?"
"We won't let Aamir leave the country, he is safe. This kind of comment influenced by a politically motivated campaign insults those who have given so much honour to Aamir in India," said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Minister of State for Minority Affairs.
"Some isolated examples, however, extreme are exceptions to India's inherent tolerant nature. It would be unfortunate to let isolated examples be taken as a norm that define India. Our Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and Aamir Khan like any citizen is entitled to his personal opinion. And any one who disagrees with him also enjoys the same freedom," BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.
Taking a dig at Khan's comment at an award ceremony on Monday that his wife Kiran Rao had wondered if they should move out of India, he said many people chose to settle abroad for various reasons, including education, career, business and taxation.
"This is an individual choice. There is no constitutional bar on it," he said.
Kohli also noted that President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have spoken on multiple occasions about the norms that define India.
People should also take note that the President had asked for a reflection on whether returning awards was a correct form of protests, he said.
The very fact, he said, that the country was witnessing a free debate, including expression of dissent, was an evidence of a tolerant society.
"Can something like this happen in the neighbouring country?" he asked.
Khan had on Monday said that he has been "alarmed" by a number of incidences and his wife even suggested that they should probably leave the country.
He also virtually supported those returning their awards, saying one of the ways for creative people to express their dissatisfaction or disappointment is to return their awards.
"As an individual, as part of this country as a citizen, we read in the papers what is happening, we see it on the news and certainly, I have been alarmed. I can't deny. I have been alarmed by a number of incidents," he had said.