The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday slammed the United States for not allowing its chief minister in Gujarat Narendra Modi to enter the country.
The BJP said the action was 'unwarranted' and had caused 'insult' to the entire nation.
Modi has been denied diplomatic visa and his tourist/business visa already granted has also been revoked as per the US Immigration and Nationality Act. The Act prohibits 'any government official who was responsible for, or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom' from travelling to that country.
"We do not need lessons in religious freedom from anyone in the world, including the US," Bharatiya Janata Party Vice-President and party spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
He said the denial of visa to the elected head of a state government was an 'insult to the entire nation'.
The whole world knows about India's democracy and its pluralistic culture, he told rediff.com.
Another BJP leader said if religious intolerance was the criteria, the US should ban the entry of Chinese leaders.
The issue is likely to snowball into a political controversy, with Naqvi saying the government should disclose if it knew such a step was going to be taken.
"The BJP condemns it. The government should lodge an official complaint with the Americans," he said.
Senior BJP leader and former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha said the Government of India should protest against the US decision.
"The government should tell them that if the US government gives this kind of treatment to our ministers and Constitution heads of states like Modi, then we would give similar treatment to their leaders," he said.
"Granting visa is the sovereign right of any state, but the manner in which it was done and the reasons given (for denying the visas to Modi) are unacceptable," Sinha said. He said the central government should take up this issue 'strongly' with the US embassy and the government.
"Modi was going to the US on an invitation from the Gujarati community. The US administration has come to the conclusion without checking facts with the Gujarat government," he said.
BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu expressed surprise that the 'world's biggest democracy and champion of human rights' acted in the manner it did.
Party leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra said the BJP will meet shortly to chalk out its response to the latest developments. The party is also contemplating to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said.
With PTI inputs