New Delhi: Amid talk of intolerance, veteran BJP leader L K Advani said there was no question mark on the freedom of expression in the country and wondered who were the people saying so.
"I do not know who are the people saying that there is no freedom of expression in India. This right (freedom of expression) has always been there... Such a question does not arise today," Advani, who is said to be unhappy with the party leadership, told the media after a flag-hoisting ceremony at his residence.
Several writers and artistes have said intolerance has risen under the Modi government, a claim dismissed as politically motivated by it and BJP.
Advani declined to comment on BJP president Amit Shah's meeting with him on Sunday after the latter's election as the party chief. BJP had said Shah had gone to him to seek his "blessings".
People fought against attempts to stifle freedom of expression during the British rule, he said and referred to the Emergency as he recalled that when "our government" tried to do so, people fought back.
He said the only concern today should be about arousing patriotism in every citizen and how people in every field can become patriots.
On Republic Day, it was natural for a feeling of nationalism to be present all around but efforts should be made to keep it alive all the time by the means of education and sport besides others methods, he said.
BJP leaders and Union ministers Najma Heptulla and Rajiv Pratap Rudy were present.
Advani, besides party veterans Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar have met a couple of times in recent months and they had issued a strongly-worded statement criticising the party leadership after their first meeting on Diwali eve.