The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday distanced itself from its leader Sakshi Maharaj’s remarks on population control, ANI reported. On Friday, the Unnao MP had said people “with four wives and 40 children are responsible for population explosion in the country”. Union Minister MA Naqvi said the leader’s remarks “should not be seen as the BJP’s stand”.

“Strict laws are required in this country if we really want to curb population,” Sakshi Maharaj had said, according to News18. “Parties need to rise above politics and take [a] decision for the sake of the country.” However, he sought to defend his remarks on Saturday, saying that he was concerned about the country’s rising population. “We should respect women, and I had said that they are not machines, that is why 40 wives, 40 kids and triple talaq are no longer tolerable.”

The Meerut Police also registered a First Information Report against him for his remarks. The case was registered against several sections of the Indian Penal Code. Separately, the Election Commission also sought a report about the incident from the Meerut district administration.

The Lok Sabha MP’s remarks came just four days after the Supreme Court said that there was no use for religion in politics. “No politician can seek votes in the name of caste, creed or religion,” a bench of the court had said. “The relationship between man and god is an individual choice, and the state is forbidden from interfering in such an activity.”