In a remarkable order recently, the Supreme Court banned the use of religion and caste for electoral gains. Coming just days ahead of assembly elections in four states, including Uttar Pradesh, the SC order was widely hailed. But it seems Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sakshi Maharaj has become the first offender of this order. At a meeting, the controversial leader raked up the issue of ‘population explosion’ and blamed a particular community for this.
Uttar Pradesh politics is heavily beset with religion and caste. And Sakshi Maharaj’s remarks in this election season are not completely out of place. Whether it is the BJP or the BSP, SP, Congress, or AIMIM, religion and caste issues have been used in elections by every party.
Elections are supposed to be and expected to be a secular exercise. But that is in an ideal world. In our world, parties remain unaccountable to the actions of their MPs and wash their hands off with a simple “it’s their personal view and not the same as the party”.
Political parties have to take strong steps in such cases if they are in fact committed to the welfare of citizens and not just their vote bank. Despite the imposition of model code of conduct and Supreme Court’s orders prohibiting seeking votes on these lines in direct or indirect manner, there are clearly loopholes people like Sakshi Maharaj are using to invoke religion into the elections.
Sakshi Maharaj received a notice from the Election Commission for making distasteful comments about a certain religious community on January 7 this year. Even though the commission asked for his reply, the MP has apparently maintained that he did nothing wrong. While it’s no surprise that such words have come out of Sakshi Maharaj, it is disappointing that again the BJP has remained silent and not pulled him up for targeting a religious community.