On Tuesday, at a religious congregation in the city of Meerut, the 58-year-old who is a Lok Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh said, "The time has come when a Hindu woman must produce at least four children in order to protect the Hindu religion." He said "give one child to the army and another to us (religious scholars and preachers). (Hindu Women Must Have At Least 4 Children, Says BJP's Sakshi Maharaj)
The BJP said that was a personal opinion and not the party's. "We strongly urge our workers to focus on promoting the good work done by the government and refrain from getting involved in unnecessary statements," said BJP spokesperson Shrikant Sharma.
Political opponents demanded an explanation from the Prime Minister.
"Why has the Prime Minister maintained silence even for 24 hours? Is this the new population policy of India?" asked Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress.
Just a month ago, Sakshi Maharaj stirred controversy by calling Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse a 'patriot'.
The Prime Minister has warned law-makers from his party to avoid speeches or comments to the media that could fuel opposition claims of his government promoting a right-wing Hindu agenda. The last session of Parliament was paralyzed by a united opposition demanding the PM's response on the campaign by right-wing groups linked to the BJP of forcing or enticing religious minorities to convert to Hinduism.
The focus on that made it impossible for the government to push through important legislation. Ordinances or special executive orders were then used by the Prime Minister to initiate 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.