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Bovine politics: Now Gujarat Congress wants cow to be declared national animal

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 2 June 2017, 23:05 IST

The public slaughter of a calf by activists of Youth Congress in Kerala has taken an ugly turn in Gujarat with both Congress and BJP locking horns over beef politics. While BJP has of Congress being a party of cow slaughterers, the latter has dared the former to declare the bovine as national animal to prove its love and respect for “gau mata”.

“Congress has always given more respect to cow than even mother. Most of the legislations brought in favour of cow protection were brought in by Congress. What has BJP done? It is for this very reason that we are daring the BJP, which is also in power at the Center, to declare cow as the national animal to show their love and respect for gau mata,” claimed party spokesperson Dr Himanshu Patel.

Accusing the BJP of using cow only for political gains, Patel said that they have abandoned thousands of cows in Gujarat and usurped gauchar (pastoral) lands. They do not mention how these lands have been given to big businesses while cows are forced to eat plastic and die a slow and painful death.

When questioned whether the decision to ask for cow to be declared a national animal is in reaction to violent protests organised by BJP in protest to the Kerala incident, Patel countered and cited examples of Union minister Kiren Rijiju among several other BJP leaders who have publicly backed beef consumption.

“Can you imagine a Congress minister making a statement like Rijiju or other BJP leaders promising cheap and good quality beef? While one regrettable incident in Kerala is being blown out of proportion, why is BJP silent on these statements by its ministers? Why have they not been sacked as yet? We removed all the Youth Congress workers. This exposes the hypocrisy of BJP and how they only want to use cow for petty politics,” Patel added.

Ever since the Kerala incident, BJP has upped the ante against the Congress in the poll bound state which has led to violent skirmishes between the workers of both the parties. Earlier this week, Gau Seva Ayaog vice-chairman and BJP leader Chaitaniya Shambhu Maharaj, who is also a senior VHP member, held a protest against the Kerala incident wherein workers of both parties attacked each other. Stones were also pelted leading to injuries to several people.

Moreover, Bajrang Dal activists also attacked and pelted stones at the Congress office in Paldi. The miscreants defaced office walls and wrote 'Cow Killer Congress'. Posters with similar slogans against the Congress have come up in different parts of the state forcing the grand old party to devise the strategy of seeking national status for cow.

When questioned that how is Congress different from BJP if it seeks a national status for cow which would also mean a ban on cow slaughter across the country, a senior Congress leader in Delhi said, “This is just a political strategy. If we come to power, we wont make any such announcement because we respect the food habits and cultures of different regions. This strategy is also to expose the BJP which has made cow protection a national issue wherein innocents are being lynched at the whims and fancies of self styled gau rakshaks.”

He went on to add that in future if someone wants to declare goat as national sister or donkey as national father, no one would do that. “These are just tactics to divert the attention and expose the doublespeak of the BJP. If they are so serious about cow protection than let them do it. We all know they would never do that,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Kerala incident is being used by the BJP for political gains in the run up to the assembly elections and Congress is certainly on the backfoot. Earlier this week, the Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani in a series of tweets sought answers from the Congress for cow slaughter in Kerala. He also claimed that with the Kerala incident Congress has exposed its real face.

Congress may have adopted this approach to counter an aggressive BJP and it remains to be seen whether the people of Gujarat would buy their argument. At the moment, the video of Kerala incident is being widely circulated across social platforms which is beginning to hurt the grand old party. Only time will tell how it will play in the Assembly election but the grand old party is certainly on the backfoot.

First published: 2 June 2017, 23:05 IST