The Repetitive Sectarianism of Giriraj Singh

Concerned that "our" population is on the decline a minister in Narendra Modi's cabinet says Hindus must have two sons or face the prospect of their daughters ending up in veils.

Patna: BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Nawada seat Giriraj Singh flashes victory sign at his residence after granted bail in a case of alleged hate speech, in Patna on Tuesday. PTI photo (PTI5_6_2014_000076B) *** Local Caption *** .

Giriraj Singh. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Union minister of state for micro, small and medium enterprises Giriraj Singh said on Monday that India needed to rework its population policy and enforce a two-child norm for all religions, or else “our daughters will not be safe and might have to be kept under the veil, like in Pakistan”.

Hindu ka do beta ho aur Musalmaan ko bhi do hi beta hona chahiye. Hamaari aabadi ghat rahi hai. Bihar mein saat zila aisa hai jahan hamaari jansankhya ghat rahi hai. Jansankhya niyantran ke niyam ko badalna hoga, tabhi hamaari betiyaan surakshit rahengi. Nahi toh hamein bhi Pakistan ki tarah apni betiyon ko parde mein band karna hoga (Hindus should have two sons, Muslims, too, should have two sons. Our population is coming down. Bihar has seven such districts where our population has gone down. Population rules have to be changed, only then will our daughters be safe. Otherwise, like Pakistan, we too will have to keep our daughters under the veil),” The Indian Express quoted the BJP minister as saying.

The statement was made in Bagaha, West Champaran, at a cultural yatra programme. The audience was made up of sadhus and RSS workers, local BJP MP Satish Dubey and RSS leader Nagendraji were also present on the stage.

“In independent India our population has come down from 90% to 72-74,” the minister was quoted by NDTV as saying. He added that he was concerned that “our population” is on the decline. “The way we had lost Aryavrata and Jambudweep (names for ancient, undivided India) we will also lose Bharatvarsha,” he added.

Giriraj Singh’s repeated use of the word “our” to refer to Hindus – excluding Muslims and other Indians – raises questions about his fidelity to the oath of office he took as minister. Ministers are enjoined by oath, and the constitution, to “do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Consitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”

In December 2015, Singh pointed to the need to curb “uncontrolled growth” of population through a uniform policy for all Indians – implying, incorrectly, that Muslims are subject to some other population policy. He also said the time has come to redefine the meaning of “minority”. “It has been over 68 years since India got freedom, and now time has come when we should clearly lay down parameters to call a particular community minority,” NDTV quoted the minister as saying. “There are several villages, blocks, tehsils, districts, where over 70% the population belongs to a particular community, but they enjoy minority status. This should be done away with.”

This is not the only time Singh has been in the news for the wrong reasons and made statements that have been called sectarian in one form or another.

Earlier this month, Singh said the fatwa asking Muslim Indians not to chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ was a conspiracy from “international powers” wanting to destroy India.

In February, responding to Rahul Gandhi’s statement that he did not need a certificate of nationalism from the BJP, Singh said “Rahul Gandhi and leaders of various political are speaking the language of Hafiz Saeed”.

Singh has also fought for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, saying in February: “If a Ram temple is constructed, it will be in Ayodhya, not Pakistan. Ram janambhoomi is a place of faith and the Centre has trust in court and law of the land.”

In October last year, before the Bihar elections, he stated that “Jinnah’s jinn has entered in Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad and they want to make Bihar a Pakistan”. Around the same time, he had also said that “those who sympathise with Pakistan are enemies of India”.

In April last year, Singh was made to apologise in parliament for a racist comment he made. He had been caught on camera saying that if Rajiv Gandhi had married a ‘Nigerian’ instead of the “fair-skinned” Sonia Gandhi, Congress would not have accepted her as their leader.

In the run-up to the 2014 elections, Singh had said that all those who do not support Narendra Modi should be sent to Pakistan.