New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS) Saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “upset”, BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday pulled up five party leaders whose controversial remarks on beef have embarrassed it, informed sources said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party president conveyed Modi’s anguish in separate meetings he held at the party office here with the five, including Haryana Chief Minister M.L. Khattar, the sources said.
The others who faced Modi’s wrath were ministers Mahesh Sharma and Sanjeev Baliyan, Lok Sabha member Sakshi Maharaj and Uttar Pradesh legislator Sangeet Som.
Shah reportedly told them that the prime minister was “upset” with the kind of remarks they have made related to beef consumption in the wake of last month’s murder of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh.
The man, Mohammad Akhlaq, 50, was dragged out of his house in Dadri area near Delhi and lynched by a mob following rumours that he killed a cow and ate beef. His son was also seriously injured.
Akhlaq’s family denied the allegation, saying he only consumed mutton.
Even as the killing ignited widespread condemnation, some BJP leaders made comments that appeared to justify the grisly murder.
The BJP leaders who met Shah, however, claimed they were not pulled up and that they had only discussed party matters.
But a party source pointed out that the only thread binding the five were their comments on beef and related issues.
After meeting Shah, Som said: “We … (discussed) party matters.”
Sakshi Maharaj said no “explanation” was sought from him and he gave none, and that he and Shah talked about upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Khattar, who stoked embarrassment by telling a newspaper that Muslims must give up eating beef if they wanted to live in India, also spoke on similar lines, saying his meeting with Shah was already scheduled.
The hardline views by some BJP leaders over beef and Muslims have come at a time when Modi is trying to woo voters in the Bihar assembly election on a platform of development and oneness.
The opposition wasn’t impressed by Shah’s admonition of his erring BJP colleagues.
Spokesmen for the Congress, Janata Dal-United and CPI called the Shah meeting a cosmetic exercise, and said it seemed to be a course correction amid the Bihar battle.