The Congress on Monday accused the BJP of raising the issue of nationalism to cover up the failures of its government.
"The only reason why the bogey of nationalism is being raised, is to cover the inadequacies and the failures of the past 22 months.
"It is ironic as to who is raising the question of nationalism - - the political party whose predecessors had apologised to the British imperialists to come out of jail, a party which had no role to play in the national reconstruction of India, " Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday had said "nationalism is the country's strength" and freedom of speech does not permit "destruction of the nation".
"Nationalism is our strength and it should be further spread, " Home Minister Rajnath Singh quoted Modi as saying at the two - day meet of the Bharatiya Janata Party's national executive.
Modi also said anti - nationalism would not be tolerated at any cost.
Reacting to this, Tewari criticised the BJP leadership for evoking a debate on the use of the slogan "Bharat Mata ki Jai" to express one's patriotism.
"When Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose said 'Jai Hind', or for that matter Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev said 'Hindustan Zindabad', or even 'Inquilab Zindabad', did that make them less nationalists, than those who say 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', " Tewari asked.
"Whether it is 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', it is 'Jai Hind', it is 'Mera Bharat Mahaan', 'Hindustan Zindabad', 'Vande Mataram', they are all synonyms of the same emotion, " he said.
The Congress, however, had sided with the Shiv Sena, BJP and the Nationalist Congress Party in the Maharashtra assembly in getting AIMIM member Waris Pathan suspended for not chanting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'.