New Delhi, Oct 11 The ruling Bharatiya Janata party is testing the waters ahead of attempting to bring any legislation on a sensitive issue like population control.
Though officially the BJP is not part of it, but Delhi leader Ashwini Upadhayay began a three-day march from Meerut on Friday for the demand.
The fact that a slew of BJP leaders including Gen V.K. Singh, Sanjeev Balyan, Satyapal Singh and Mahesh Sharma will be a part of the march shows the BJP is trying to get a sense from the ground on whether India is ready for a law on population control, something many Indians still think is a private decision, where the state shouldn’t intervene.
In fact, donning a ’tilak’, Union minister Giriraj Singh also walked on the streets of Meerut demanding such a law.
The march is being organised by “Jansankhya Samadhan Foundation”, coordinated by Upadhayay. He is calling it a “Samadhan March” (Solution March). When asked, the BJP leader reasoned, the ‘solution’ refers to the undoing of problems emataing from rising population putting a stress on the limited resources of India.
He claimed, India has at least 5 crore illegal Bangladeshis and Rohingyas that take the actual population count way above the official number of 125 crore.
“We have just 2 per cent of the world’s agricultural land, 4 per cent of world’s drinking water, but population that is 20 per cent of the world… In China, 11 infants are born every minute whereas, in India, 33 infants are born every 60 seconds,” said the BJP leader.
The organisation claims, Venkatchalaiya Committee proposed to add Article 47A to the Constitution and bring legislation for controlling the ever rising population way back, which till date hasn’t been implemented. But Upadhayay, who is spearheading the march, knows intellectual discourse armed with statistics won’t help him. Hence, “Samadhan March” has taken to the streets and kick-started on Friday at 11 a.m. from Meerut.
The march will halt at Modi Nagar on Friday night and restart on Saturday night from there for Sahibabad. the final leg will be completed on Sunday when the massive march reaches Delhi. It will culminate in a rally at Jantar Mantar, demanding a law for population control that will disenfranchise any couple who gives birth to a third child from basic rights like voting.
The “Jansankhya Samadhan Foundation” is also demanding stricter punishments for couples in case they give birth to a fourth child, in form of imprisonment for 10 years.
The organisation in posters put up at Meerut invited “rashtra rakshaks” to join the march to Delhi and make themselves heard. Union minister Giriraj Singh, who is the chief guest, has also re-tweeted a number of tweets by Upadhayay on this issue.
This march cannot be seen in isolation. Interestingly, this July BJP Rajya Sabha member and RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha had introduced a private member’s bill proposing disqualification from being an elected representative, denial of financial benefits and reduction in benefits under the Public Distribution System (PDS) for people with more than two children.
A month later, during his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had said that explosive population growth is a matter of “concern”.
“There is one issue I want to highlight today: population explosion. We have to think, can we do justice to the aspirations of our children? There is a need to have greater discussion and awareness on population explosion,” Modi had said from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
“Samadhan March” (Solution March) is hence, seen as a logical movement towards testing the waters before the ruling BJP, which has come back for a second term with an even bigger mandate of 303 seats, can attempt to bring in any legislation to curb population.