Guwahati: In what has brought beef-eating and cow slaughter issues into the focus once again, Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched his campaign in the frontier state of Meghalaya with assurance that his party would continue to safeguard cultures, traditions and way of thinking of people in Meghalaya.
The state is going to polls on February 27.
While addressing party workers at Jowai, Rahul said: “We are going to work with you, defend your languages and tribal customs because we are proud of them and we are convinced that without customs, cultures and languages, India will be weakened.”
Rahul, who is on a two-day visit to the state, also reiterated the views during his interaction with tribal leaders and prominent citizens in Shillong.
Congress president’s remark is significant in the backdrop of the Centre’s proposed ban on sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter that had triggered a major controversy in Meghalaya in 2017. Two district presidents of BJP had resigned over the issue.
Though, BJP has clarified the position of the party by assuring that it would not impose any restrictions on food habits of people in Meghalaya, the beef-ban has been a major issue in the frontier state to which ruling Congress intends to capitalize in the run up to the assembly polls.
According to the 2011 census, 86 per cent of Meghalaya’s total population comprises of scheduled tribes. Beef is an important part of the diet in the state where nearly 75 per cent people are Christians.
The Congress president also took on the BJP for its pre-poll sop of offering Rs 70 crore to churches and religious institutions in the state. The BJP is making a serious bid to capture power in the 60-member assembly, but Gandhi insisted that the people of Meghalaya cannot be bought.
“I was very sad to hear that BJP offered money to our churches in what I consider to be a huge sum to the people of Meghalaya and the churches. There is no price, there is no amount of money that can buy the people of Meghalaya,” Rahul said.
It is significant that Meghalaya is one of the four states in the country where Congress is in power. Mizoram, another Christian majority state, which is scheduled to go to polls later this year, is the second state in the Northeast where the party is ruling.
Rahul also asserted that BJP and NPP may have succeeded in luring away a few legislators of his party but it wouldn’t affect the winning prospect of the party in the state.