BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj was booked for allegedly hurting religious feelings after he indirectly blamed Muslims for the population growth in the country that sparked a controversy, days after Supreme Court outlawed seeking votes in the name of religion or caste.
As the outburst by the MP from Unnao in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh drew strong condemnation from opposition parties, the BJP distanced itself from the comments made at a 'sant sammelan' here yesterday while the Election Commission sought a report from Meerut district administration.
The FIR was registered 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.
SP Meerut J Ravinder Goud said the FIR was registered at Sadar Bazar police station.
Congress filed a complaint against Sakshi Maharaj before the Election Commission.
"Those with four wives and 40 children are responsible for the population increase in the country. Hindus are not responsible for the increase in population," he said.
"Strict laws are required in this country if we really want to curb population. Parties need to rise above politics and take decision for the sake of the country," he added.
Congress leader KC Mittal said Sakshi Maharaj's speech is "offensive" as it is based on caste and religion and goes against the recent Supreme Court judgement.
"It is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct and Congress is officially filing a complaint against him in the Election Commission," he said.
Condemning the comments, JD-U leader K C Tyagi termed them as the first major violation of the Supreme Court guidelines outlined on Monday on use of religion in politics.
"Recently the Supreme Court and the Chief Election Commission laid down some guidelines for model code of conduct, including not to use religion, caste and language. This is the first major violation by a major political party that is BJP, by its MP. Now action must be taken by the party as well as the Election Commission against Sakshi Maharaj.
"They are making derogatory comments against one section of the society. This is violation of Model Code of Conduct to incite one section against another. And this is a criminal act," he said.
Asked about the comments, BJP leader and Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "I haven't seen his statement, but we believe in taking everyone along...Country runs on law, on Constitution, it does not run with stick.
"Such statements or views...Are not of either BJP or government. We have nothing to do with such statements."
Caught in the controversy at a time when elections in Uttar Pradesh and four other states are around the corner, an unfazed Maharaj made it clear that he was not speaking at a BJP event.
"I had said that the population of India is approx 132 crore. India's landmass is not increasing but our population keeps on increasing. We need to control this menace.
"We should respect women and I had said that she is not a machine, that is why 4 wives, 40 kids and triple talaq are no longer tolerable. We need to take a decision whether we should have one, two, three or four kids. But we need to take a decision on this," he said.
The Election Commission sought a report from the Meerut administration in connection with Sakshi Mahraj's statement, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Lucknow said.
The Meerut district administration said ADM, Meerut and city magistrate are investigating the matter from all aspects.
"We have got information about few comments during the 'sant sammelan' held at Augharnath Temple here through various newspapers. We have sought reports on it from Election Commission. ADM city and city magistrate are investigating the matter from all aspects. We will take prompt action according to law if we find anything," District Magistrate B Chandrakala said.