- Union Minister blamed "religious obstacles" for India's high population
- He also claimed that the situation could lead to a second Partition
- The opposition has accused Giriraj Singh of targeting minorities again
Couples with more than two children should be stripped of their voting rights, Union Minister Giriraj Singh said on the occasion of World Population Day today, spurring allegations that he was targeting a particular community on the pretext of promoting a social cause.
"Population explosion is disturbing the balance of economy, social harmony and resources in India. Religious obstacles are one of the main reasons for this," the Minister, known for his frequently controversial remarks, tweeted earlier today. Accompanying the post was a graphic depicting how India's population had grown by a staggering 366% between 1947 and 2019 as compared to 113% in the United States.
Giriraj Singh also warned that India could face another Partition in the name of culture unless all political parties joined hands to bring about a strong birth-control law.
According to news agency PTI, he later spoke to television channels in Delhi about the distaste "certain communities" have for birth control measures. "I hold the view that those having more than two children should be stripped of their voting rights. And this provision must be applicable to all communities. No exemption should be made for any religious group, just because its tenets disapprove of birth control measures," he said.
The BJP leader's views were slammed by the opposition in Bihar, where he hails from. State Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Ram Chandra Purbe said the Union Minister was playing petty politics by blaming minorities for the country's population problem.
Congress councillor Prem Chandra Mishra said that such ideas go against the grain of the country's secular nature. "From where does Giriraj Singh get such fanciful ideas? Can he point out any provision in the Constitution under which a person can be disenfranchised for having more than a specified number of children?" PTI quoted him as saying.
India is estimated to have a population of 1.37 billion, with Hindus accounting for nearly 80% of the figure. Muslims come second, with a little over 13%, while other religious groups such as Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists make up for the rest. According to the Pew Research Centre, India will have the highest populations of two of the three largest religions in the world - Islam and Hinduism - by 2050.
Giriraj Singh is no stranger to controversy so far as religiously sensitive remarks are concerned. A case of violating the model code was registered against him during the Lok Sabha elections, after he criticised the Muslim community's burial practices. Three years ago, he had called for urgent steps to institute sterilisation laws in the country.
(With inputs from PTI)
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