Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma hit out at AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal on Monday, three days after his controversial comments on women and the Hindu community and said a mother's womb cannot be viewed as a "farm land".
He urged Muslim women not to be "swayed" by statements of "people like Ajmal" who ask them to bear more children and asked them to limit their families to two children to provide them with a good education.
Choosing to reply to Ajmal's comments at a public meeting at Bongaigaon, which is located near Dhubri which Ajmal represents in the Lok Sabha, Sarma said people, specially women of the Muslim community, should not be "swayed by people who need them for their votes".
“I don't need your votes, but don't listen to Ajmal. Don't have more than two children so that you can bring them up to be top players, doctors and engineers,” he said, referring to Muslim women.
The AIUDF chief in an interview to a media house on Friday had commented on women and Hindu men as well as Sarma purportedly as a response to the chief minister's remarks on 'love jihad'.
Ajmal, who is reverred as a Maulana, had reportedly advised Hindus to marry young to produce more children like Muslims.
As the comments were denounced and complaints were lodged with the police across the state, the MP apologised the next day and said he was 'ashamed' of the controversy it stoked. He, however, maintained that his comments were twisted and he had not targeted any community. Sarma, who inaugurated ‘A fortnight for development' initiative for different districts at the programme, said, "People like Ajmal thought that education, development will not reach lower Assam" areas like Bongaigaon and Dhubri and were trying to convince women of these places that they were "child bearing factories".
“ Ajmal said that ‘seeds should be sown on fertile land'. I ask him are the wombs of our mothers farmlands?” Sarma, a prominent BJP leader of the North East, quipped.
“We shouldn't listen to them (Ajmal and his ilk) and should concentrate on the wellbeing of our children,” he added. Continuing his attack on the AIUDF chief, the chief minister said "Ajmal has no right to tell our women how many children they should have. If he does so, he (Ajmal) will have to take the responsibility of the children". “If he is willing to pay for their upbringing, I will ask everyone to have 10-12 children,” Sarma added in a sarcastic tone.
He spoke of the problems faced by the poor Bengali-speaking Muslims living in the 'char' (riverine) areas in bringing up their children, specially in educating them and keeping away malnutrition. “After seeing their (stricken) faces, one cannot go home and sleep in peace … I request our Muslim community women to have only so many children whom they can educate to become doctors or engineers and not junabs or imams (Muslim religious leaders),” Sarma said. On Ajmal's jibe that Hindus have fewer children as they start their families at a much later age than Muslims, the chief minister said that it ensures that Hindu children are well educated. Sarma also urged the people to refrain from communal politics and instead engage in the politics of development for the growth and development of the state.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)