New Delhi: The Prime Minister, determined not to be sidetracked from his agenda of economic reform, has warned his party's law-makers to tamp down statements described by political opponents as evidence of his government's intent to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda. But that line has been ignored by Sakshi Maharaj, a BJP parliamentarian from Uttar Pradesh.
On Tuesday, the 58-year-old said that every Hindu woman must produce four children. At a religious gathering in Uttar Pradesh, the parliamentarian said, "A Hindu woman must have at least four children. Give one to the army, another to us religious leaders and teachers," he said.
"According to BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, Hindu women ought to have four children. Even children are part of BJP's grand electoral arithmetic," said Congressman Sanjay Jha.
BJP spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said, "We strongly urge our workers to focus on promoting the good work done by the government and refrain from getting involved in unnecessary statements."
The campaign by right-wing groups affiliated to the BJP to convert Muslims and Christians to Hinduism stalled Parliament's winter session, making it impossible for the government to push through important legislation Ordinances or special executive orders were then used by the Prime Minister to allow the government to proceed with plans for economic reforms like auctioning coal fields and liberalizing the insurance sector. The ordinances must be cleared by Parliament within six weeks of its next sitting.
The Prime Minister has been questioned by opponents within and outside Parliament for his silence on the issue of conversions. Supporters describe the ceremonies where religious minorities convert to Hinduism as a "homecoming", saying that families at these events were originally Hindus.
Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, which is also the ideological mentor of the BJP, last month that said "India is a Hindu nation" where many Hindus had been forcibly converted to other religions. The controversy around his comment came after a minister, Niranjan Jyoti, publicly made deeply offensive remarks about religious minorities, for which she later apologised in Parliament.