The Election Commission censured Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sakshi Maharaj on Thursday for his remarks on population control. On January 6, the Unnao MP had said “people with four wives and 40 children are responsible for population explosion in the country”. However, the party had distanced itself from his remarks and had said they “should not be seen as the BJP’s stand”.

On January 10, the Election Commission had issued a show cause notice to Sakshi Maharaj seeking an explanation for his comments. In his reply, he said since his comments were not made in public or an election meeting, but at a saints’ conclave, it was not a violation of the model code of conduct, PTI reported.

Finding his reply unsatisfactory, the poll watchdog said, “any statement to the effect of promoting enmity between different classes of society in connection with election on the grounds of religion made during electioneering or otherwise is violative of MCC”. Warning of stern action in future if such comments were repeated, the Election Commission said it expected Sakshi Maharaj to be more careful about what he said during election time.

On January 2, the Supreme Court had ordered that no politician can seek votes in the name of any caste, creed or religion. “The relationship between man and god is an individual choice, and the state is forbidden from interfering in such an activity,” it had said. The Model Code of Conduct came into force on January 4 when election dates for the five poll-bound states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa – were announced.