BJP chief Amit Shah has done well to crack the whip against party MP Sakshi Maharaj for his controversial statement that Hindu women must produce at least four children each so as to protect Hindu religion. The implication of his statement was that Muslims were multiplying at a much faster rate than Hindus, endangering the numerical superiority of the latter. Congressmen and MPs of some other parties like the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Janata Dal (U) and Trinamool Congress were quick to latch on to Sakshi Maharaj’s statement to allege that the BJP was unmasking its communal agenda and baring its sinister fangs.
The show cause notice served on Sakshi Maharaj is intended to serve as a warning to others as Shah had expressed disappointment over MPs not adhering to party discipline. The action came soon after some quiet but forceful back room talk between the BJP leadership and RSS brass led to the shelving of high-profile ‘ghar wapsi’ programmes that had led to allegations that the Modi government was playing to a communal agenda rather than sticking to its development plank. Modi made his thoughts on the issue clear at a meeting of party MPs where he said there should be no dilution on the government’s focus on development. He has since followed it up with taking up the “Make in India” programme at investors meets like the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.
The BJP has indeed realised that irresponsible statements like Sakshi Maharaj’s and before him of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti when she called the Delhi poll battle as one between Ramzaadas (followers of Lord Rama) and Haramzadas (bastards) in a public meeting, besides the “ghar wapsi” campaign, had sullied the BJP’s record on communal peace. There has been an element of disillusionment among a section of those who got taken in by BJP’s development agenda before the Lok Sabha elections and subsequently in elections to some state assemblies. The middle class was particularly affected by the negative perception the ‘secular’ parties tried to create. There was a need felt to clear the air before the Delhi election.