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By Pervez Bari 

BHOPAL — Taking cue from Uttar Pradesh and Assam, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in Madhya Pradesh have raked up the issue of rising population and started firing salvos at Muslims for allegedly having more children. In recent days, BJP MPs and MLAs have either written letters to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan or given public statements demanding UP-like population control Bill. They are also demanding enactment of uniform civil code.

Ironically, most of the leaders who are making such demands have more than two children.

The demand has also sparked a war of words between the ruling BJP and opposition Congress Party.

Those leading the campaign include Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, BJP MP from Bhopal; Sudhir Gupta, BJP MP from Mandsaur; state’s Cabinet Ministers Vishvas Sarang; and Rameshwar Sharma, MLA from Huzur constituency in Bhopal district.

Ram Lallu Vaishya, BJP MLA from Singrauli, recently said in a statement that “Our policy was ‘We two and our two’. But did it succeed? Hindus were asked to get a vasectomy, but others were left free. This should not happen.”

It’s interesting to note that Vaishya has nine children.

BJP MLA Rameshwar Sharma wrote a letter to Chief Minister Chouhan, urging him to enact a legislation to control population in Madhya Pradesh. “It is necessary to control the continuously increasing population of the state by passing legislation to this effect. The estimated population of the state in 2021 is about 8.75 crore. It means the population has increased by 1.5 crore in the last 10 years, as the state’s population in 2011 was 7.25 crore,” Sharma stated in his letter.

BJP leader Mahendra Singh Sisodia, while calling for a UP-like population control mechanism, raised the issue of uniform civil code. He said: “There are many laws to control population but uniform civil code has to be implemented because Muslims marry two-three times and produce 10 children. There should be a limit on number of children produced irrespective of caste or religion.”

State’s Home Minister Narottam Mishra has, however, said that the government does not have any such proposal. Mishra told media persons that he was not responsible for what Congress or others were saying but there was no such proposal with the state government.

In the year 2000, the Congress-led government had introduced a two-child norm for government employees and panchayat-level polls that was challenged in court and then withdrawn by the BJP government in 2005.

The Congress has slammed BJP. Party’s state media coordinator Narendra Saluja said that BJP leaders are giving contradictory statements. “We have heard statements from RSS chief to MP Sadhvi Pragya Thakur advocating Hindus to have more children. On the contrary, VHP in UP is protesting against Yogi’s proposal,” said Saluja.

Arif Masood, Congress MLA from Bhopal, has linked BJP leaders’ population-related statements with the UP Assembly election which is due early next year.

Meanwhile, some interesting facts have come to light. The current Vidhan Sabha (Assembly) of Madhya Pradesh has 227 sitting members, of whom 125 are from the BJP. Forty-nine of them have more than three children. There are 14 BJP MLAs who have more than four children; and three MLAs have more than five. Of the 31 ministers in the state government, 13 have three or more children.

The opposition Congress is in a similar position. Out of 95 of its MLAs, 33 have three or more children.

Reports say, some MLAs are considering to move a private member’s bill on population control and the uniform civil code in the next Assembly session.

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