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‘Jai Palestine’: Why an Indian MP invoked Gaza war while taking oath

BJP leaders accused Asaduddin Owaisi of violating the Indian Constitution by chanting for Palestine.

A usually staid swearing-in procedure where Indian parliamentarians take their oath of office has exploded into a controversy after veteran opposition legislator Asaduddin Owaisi chanted “Jai Palestine” after reading out the pledge on Tuesday.

In Sanskrit, the word “jai” literally translates to victory, but is used more broadly to connote support, so in effect, Owaisi’s slogan amounted to: “Long live Palestine.”

Parliamentarians from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have accused him of violating the very constitutional pledge he was taking by, according to them, demonstrating loyalty to another nation – a charge Owaisi has denied.

So what really happened, why have Owaisi’s words become controversial, what else happened in the Indian Parliament on Tuesday and what’s next for Owaisi?

Owaisi took his oath as a member of parliament (MP), alongside 542 other legislators who were declared winners of India’s mammoth national election.

The white kurta-clad Owaisi advanced to the podium in Parliament amid scattered applause from other parliamentarians before reading out his oath in Urdu.

“I, Asaduddin Owaisi, who has been elected as a Lok Sabha member, swear in the name of Allah, that I will remain solemn and loyal to the Constitution of India. I will maintain the supremacy and integrity of India and I will fulfil my duties, assigned to me under this position, with loyalty,” he pledged in Urdu. The Lok Sabha is the directly elected lower house of India’s Parliament.

Then, he chanted “Jai Bhim, Jai Meem, Jai Telangana, Jai Filisteen” before stepping away from the podium.

“Jai Bhim” is a