Vikram Saini, a legislator of the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh known for making provocative comments, stirred another controversy today when he said “our country is called Hindustan, which means a nation for the Hindus,” accusing earlier governments of giving benefits only to Muslims.
Speaking at a function in communally sensitive Muzaffarnagar, the epicenter of riots in 2013 which claimed 60 lives, Saini said, “I’m a hardcore believer in Hindutva. Our nation is called Hindustan, which means a nation for the Hindus. Today, everyone gets benefits without any discrimination”.
Then, in a comment seen as targeting the Congress, which the BJP accuses of appeasing Muslims, the lawmaker, who represents Khatauli in the Uttar Pradesh assembly, said, “Earlier the system was — the longer the beard, the bigger the cheque”.
“Some scatter-brained leaders made the bearded ones stay, which is why we are in trouble today. Had they left, all this land would have belonged to us,” he added. The remark was seen as a dig at the Samajwadi Party, which ruled the state before the BJP swept to power last March.
Yesterday, another BJP lawmaker from Rajasthan had courted controversy by alleging that Muslims were bearing more children with an aim to outnumber Hindus and to take control of the country by 2030. “Muslims were giving birth to 12-14 children….while Hindus restrict the number to one or two,” read a Facebook post by Banwari Lal, the sitting legislator from Alwar, where by-polls for the parliamentary seat will be held on January 29.
Saini had been detained under the National Security Act after the 2013 violence in Muzaffarnagar.
In March last year, amid the uncertainty over the closure of slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh, he had threatened to “break the limbs of those killing cows”. “I had promised that I will break the hands and legs of those who hesitate in saying ‘Vande Mataram’, those who feel pain in saying ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ and also those who do not consider cows their mother and kill them,” he was heard saying in a video, that had triggered controversy.