Following the outrage due to controversial comments by the party leaders, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah today “reprimanded” several top party leaders for their remarks on Dadri lynching and beef row after Prime Minister Narendra Modi voiced “extreme displeasure” over their actions.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan, Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj and Uttar Pradesh MLA Sangeet Som, an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, were “summoned” to BJP president Amit Shah’s office where they were “reprimanded” and warned against making comments that “threaten to derail” the Modi government’s “positive agenda”, a senior party functionary said.
“Khattar, Balyan, Sakshi Maharaj and Som were summoned to Amit Shah’s office and were reprimanded in person for their controversial utterances as because of these the positive agenda of the Modi government like employment generation, poverty reduction and development get somewhat derailed,” he said.
The BJP functionary said “displeasure” was also telephonically conveyed to MoS for culture and tourism Mahesh Sharma.
“Besides, a message has been sought to be conveyed to the entire party hierarchy that leaders should desist from making statements that create unnecessary controversy. People prone to making controversial statements have also been conveyed the party’s unhappiness,” he said.
The move came a day after one of BJP’s oldest allies Shiromani Akali Dal termed the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri last month over beef eating rumours a “shame” for the country and said what happened after that was “damaging the Prime Minister more than anybody else”.
SAD MP Naresh Gujral had said, “What happened after the lynching incident in UP is damaging the NDA, the BJP and damaging the Prime Minister more than anybody else.”
He deplored that “motormouths” were not paying heed to even Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that no action was being taken against them.
“But unfortunately, no action has been taken against anybody…motormouths are not paying heed to what the Prime Minister has said. It is high time some action is taken against anybody so that a strong message goes all the way in Sangh Parivar that this kind of nonsense will not be tolerated,” he had said.
“What is the point of closing stable door after horse has bolted? For 18 months such divisive and provocative statements and actions have been recurring with monotonous regularity. So, after 18 months Amit Shah has found time to chastise MPs and ministers.
“It is obviously an empty formality. Modi has still not found time and continues to practice deafening silence. This has been a mere gimmick far from solving issues which amounts to admission of guilt,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
Shah, according to those privy to the development, told the leaders that the Dadri incident was “essentially a failure” of UP’s Samajwadi Party government. The controversial remarks by them only served to deflect the attention from the failure of the state government and turned the spotlight on BJP, they were told.
“Modiji is extremely upset over these controversies,” the leader said.
Khattar was recently reported to have said in a newspaper interview that Muslims can live in India but they will have to give up eating beef. He was forced to retract following a backlash by the opposition.
Both Sharma, Union Culture Minister, and Som had visited the Dadri village in the aftermath of the incident. While Sharma had termed the murder as an “accident”, Som alleged the police was framing innocents and warned of retaliation like the one witnessed during riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013.
Sakshi Maharaj on October 18, pitched for a law that provides for death penalty for cow slaughter and defended the action of BJP MLAs who beat up an independent member inside the Jammu and Kashmir assembly after he reportedly hosted a beef party.
Mahesh Sharma, who was among those “pulled up” by the BJP chief, however, said “nothing like this” has happened, while Sakshi Maharaj maintained “no explanation” was sought from him.
Sakshi Maharaj claimed he met Shah over issues relating to his Unnao constituency in UP. “No explanation (for controversial statements) were sought and none given.”
“I had come to discuss problems of my consituency . After Bihar, UP will have elections and I have to do something there. So, should I not discuss issues of my area? Be it Hindus or Muslims, anybody being murdered is shameful,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Balyan, had said after the Dadri lynching episode that the incident was not linked to communalism and was a social issue concerning emotions of the Hindu community.
“The issue should not be linked to communalism and to any party. Whatever happened was wrong and unfortunate. But why such incidents happen? Look at any districts in the state, cow slaughter houses are set up at every place. The Uttar Pradesh government has not been able to take effective action,” he had said.
Asked after the meeting if he was reprimanded by the BJP president, he said,”Nothing of that sort…anything. We had just come to meet the party chief.”
Som said they were party workers and had come to meet the BJP chief over issues related to it. “We are workers of the party and had come to meet our national president. So, discussions must be relating to party only,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)