New Delhi: The Election Commission of India has issued a notice to BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj to show cause why action should not be taken against him for his controversial remarks indirectly blaming Muslims for the population growth, holding that prima facie he has violated the model code of conduct.
Maharaj has been given time till Wednesday morning to file his reply to the notice. The EC action comes two days after he was booked by police for allegedly hurting religious feelings, days after Supreme Court outlawed seeking votes in the name of religion or caste.
The EC in the notice issued on Monday night said prima facie the MP from Unnao in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh has violated the model code which came into force on January 4 following announcement of assembly polls in five states, including Uttar Pradesh.
It said read in entirety, his remarks "have effect of promoting enmity between classes of society..." Maharaj while acknowledging that he received the notice on Tuesday indicated he needed more time to respond to it and claimed that he had not said anything for which he was liable to be served the notice.
"I haven't said anything for which I am liable to be served the notice. Neither did I ask for votes, nor did I say anything which conveys so. I didn't name any community. I only said that the population growth rate should be restricted in the country. Why should any particular community relate to my comments?" Sakshi Maharaj said he received the notice only Tuesday and that too in English.
"Since I don't have the knowledge of English, I have asked my office to request the Election Commission to serve me the Hindi version of the notice. I will be able to understand the content of the notice only after it is translated into Hindi," he added.
Speaking at a sant sammelan in Meerut last week, Sakshi Maharaj had said, "Desh mein samasyaein khadi ho rahi hain jansankhya ke karan. Uske liye Hindu zimmedar nahin hain Zimmedar toh wo hain jo chaar biwion aur chalees bachchon ki baatein karte hain." (There are problems in the country because of the growth of population. Hindus are not responsible for that. Those responsible are the ones who talk of four wives and 40 children.)
The BJP MP's remarks come days after the Supreme Court ruled that political parties and candidates can't seek votes in the name of religion or caste and ahead of the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh on February 11. He also came in for sharp condemnation from opposition parties.
Meerut police filed an FIR against Sakshi Maharaj on Saturday under IPC sections 298 (Uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class) and 153b (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national- integration) among others, police said. Congress had also complained to the Election Commission.