Even as reports suggest that Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah summoned five party leaders over their controversial remarks on beef eating, one of the leaders on Sunday claimed that the meeting was on "party matters".
Shah reportedly met Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar, Union Ministers Mahesh Sharma and Sanjeev Balyan, MP Sakshi Maharaj and Uttar Pradesh legislator Sangeet Som separately to warn them against making controversial statements that may affect the party's stature.
The BJP chief has reportedly told these leaders that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "upset" with their remarks on the consumption of beef by minority communities in India following the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri area in Uttar Pradesh' Gautam Budh Nagar district, just a few kilometres from the national capital.
Fifty-two-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq was dragged out of his house in Bisara village in Dadri and lynched by a mob following rumours that he had killed a calf and ate beef. Some of these leaders made statements that appeared to justify the gory incident.
"The PM is livid over BJP leaders bringing the embarrassment on to themselves rather than taking on the state governments for their failure to maintain law and order," Times Now quoted its sources as saying.
The Dadri lynching and the leaders' remarks together attracted strong criticism against the ruling party and the PM was also questioned for being silent on the growing intolerance in the society.
Although the reports suggest that the five leaders were slammed for their remarks, Som told the media after meeting Shah that they were called regarding party matters. "We were called by the BJP president and discussions were held on party matters," he said.
Whereas, Sakshi Maharaj told reporters that he was not asked to give any clarification.
Mujhse koi safaayi maangi hi nhi aur maine koi safaayi nahin di:Sakshi Maharaj after meeting BJP Pres Amit Shah pic.twitter.com/3bCN23hBXD
— ANI (@ANI_news) October 18, 2015
Who said what?
In an interview with a national daily, Haryana CM Khattar had asked the Muslims to give up beef if they want to stay in India, drawing strong criticism from the Opposition. After facing backlash, Khattar said his words were "misconstrued".
Minister of State for Tourism and BJP parliamentarian Mahesh Sharma had said that the Dadri incident was a "misunderstanding". "This incident was like action and reaction and not because of any organised plan. Misunderstanding was the main reason for this....I do not think it was done in a planned way," he had said, according to a PTI report.
Sakshi Maharaj stroked a controversy by asking for a law that gives death penalty for cow slaughter. He also defended BJP MLAs who assaulted independent legislator in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly Sheikh Abdul Rashid, calling it a "natural reaction" to his action.
(With inputs from IANS)