Shah reprimands BJP loose cannons over beef remarks

Shah reprimands BJP loose cannons over beef remarks

As the civil society’s voice against religious intolerance grew louder, BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday reprimanded many leaders of his party, including Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Union minister Mahesh Sharma, warning them against making insensitive remarks.

The action came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed “extreme displeasure” over their stinging remarks on the Dadri lynching and the beef row.

Shah pulled up Khattar, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan, Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj and Uttar Pradesh MLA Sangeet Som in person after summoning them to his office, while the Modi’s “displeasure” was conveyed to the Union culture minister over telephone, said party sources.

“The party president has warned them against making such statements. Such controversies in a way derail the party’s as well as the NDA government’s development agenda,” added the sources.

Modi’s “unhappiness” on the issue has also been conveyed to leaders across the BJP rank and file. “A message has been sought to be conveyed to the entire party hierarchy that leaders should desist from making statements that create unnecessary controversy. Modi is extremely upset,” said the party sources.

While reprimanding the party leaders, Shah told them the Dadri incident was “essentially a failure” of the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh, but they turned the spotlight on the BJP by making “unnecessary” statements.

“They were told they only helped deflect people’s attention from the UP government’s failure and bring the spotlight on the BJP,” said the sources.

After the meeting, most of these leaders, including Balyan and Maharaj, denied that the party chief had pulled them up.

A controversy erupted after the Haryana chief minister reportedly told a newspaper last week that Muslims can live in India but would have to give up eating beef.

Though Khattar later refused having made such a statement, claiming his views were “distorted” by the newspaper, his remarks intensified the ongoing debate over the Dadri lynching and the beef ban.

The BJP-led government at the Centre has been facing flak from the Opposition on the issue, with many eminent writers and scholars returning their Sahitya Akademi Awards protesting against the killing of Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and “rising religious intolerance” in the country. They are also questioning the prime minister’s silence on the issue.

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