Its gameplan is to polarise & move ahead
Doublespeak and double standards come very easily to the BJP. It is certainly not surprising that they can have one position on a subject in one state while completely different position in another state. It is crystal clear for all of us to see their assertions in Uttar Pradesh, the Northeast and Kerala. It is appalling that a party like the BJP, which calls itself a disciplined party, can have so many somersaults on one subject in different states.
We all know the BJP’s declared position on the beef ban in North Indian states. We also know its position in the northeastern states. It is no surprise then what the BJP candidate in a Kerala byelection is offering people. This goes to show that the BJP only cares about winning elections and for that to happen it certainly does not mind twisting its principles. It would be correct to say that the BJP is not a party with a difference, instead it’s a party with differences.
In UP, where Yogi Adityanathji has become chief minister, the BJP is firm on a beef ban and removing illegal abattoirs. We have always maintained that the law of the land must be upheld. But the cow vigilante gang is ruling the roost. They are out on the streets harassing and troubling innocent people. The motive is very clear: they are not keen on saving the cow but are keen on creating a substantial other which can be vilified. This will eventually ensure polarisation that will lead to the BJP’s victory. This has been the gameplan of the BJP for several decades: to polarise and move ahead.
The BJP’s top leadership should now come out into the open and clear its stand on beef. There are different versions coming out from their own state leaders on the issue. We all know that nothing in the party happens without a green signal from the top. It is a ploy the BJP is cleverly using. The state units will pander to local conditions, while the national unit will look away.
Interestingly, it is the BJP’s ally, the Shiv Sena, that is targeting it over the beef ban. I am only quoting the mouthpiece of the Sena, Saamana. In Saamana, the Sena has asked the BJP whether it will hang people having beef in Goa? Goa is another state where the BJP has been in power for long and in Saamana’s editorial it is clearly mentioned that people in Goa are eating beef. It is clear that it is not only the Opposition parties but also its allies who are aware of its double standards.
The BJP has made its stand on cow protection known for long now. Its aggressive posturing over stringent cow protection laws across states is also well known. Recently, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh said that cow killers should be hanged. The Gujarat Assembly has already passed a bill to give life imprisonment to people who are found guilty of killing a cow.
Meanwhile, when it comes to electoral politics, the BJP seems to understand that its stand on cow slaughter will not help the party to make inroads in states where beef is the staple diet of many. This is also known to its top leaders, and that’s why they look the other way when state leaders make statements about beef consumption. Their duplicity has found them out once again.
The writer is national media coordinator of the AICC
The party is being practical, people-friendly
There is no double standard in the BJP’s approach on cow slaughter ban and shutting down illegal slaughterhouses. Is it not a surprise that though Uttar Pradesh contributes 60 to 70 per cent of the country’s meat exports, more than half of the slaughterhouses in the state were run illegally? There is a difference between banning beef and regulating the meat trade. The BJP in its sankalp patra and in all campaign speeches made the commitment that it will close down illegal meat shops. This has been a demand of the National Green Tribunal and the Pollution Control Board. The Supreme Court had laid down guidelines for regulating the meat trade in the country to make it healthy and environment friendly.
The mandate the BJP got on March 11 was to implement its poll promise. There was massive support from the people of the state, including slaughterhouses and the meat-eating segment of society. For it was all about human health and environmental protection with the goal of reviving agriculture. The scare created by the media or the kneejerk hartal by the meat traders did not draw much public support, and soon they were forced to retreat.
Closing illegal abattoirs is not a Hindu-Muslim issue. Shahabuddin Ghori, chairman of Rampur municipality, says he got the first licence under new UP chief minister Adityanath Yogi to set up a state-supported mechanised slaughterhouse under his municipality. This can cater to hundreds of meatsellers in the locality to run a legal meat trade. Other municipalities also can follow his lead. He says only less than half the municipalities in the state have licence to run abattoirs. Under Akhilesh Yadav and the UPA at the Centre, the meat industry was promoted and illegal trade, smuggling of cattle and export of cow meat flourished with impunity. For this big foreign exchange earner, modernisation is the key. The shakeup because of the new initiative has actually provided a meaty chance for online startups. Two decades ago Delhi witnessed a similar hue and cry when slaughterhouses were modernised and moved out of metropolitan limits. But it did not kill the industry or lead to any meat scarcity.
Similarly, the problem in UP has already started easing out with more investment and scientific methods replacing the old unhealthy practices.
As for the BJP approaching the subject differently in the South and north-eastern states where there is no cow slaughter ban and the majority of people are meat eaters, the party is only being practical and people-friendly. It is honouring majority sentiments in both cases. Is it wrong if the party in power tries to enforce the law of the land? There is no comparison as all north and western states, including Jammu and Kashmir, have banned cow slaughter, whereas the case is reverse in Northeast and Kerala. The BJP in a way is responding to the people’s will in both cases. UP, which exports 4.66 lakh tonne of meat, with 15 million people employed in this sector, has for once attempted to modernise and make it more viable. People often confuse buffalo meat with beef and get misled. Actually, the BJP is reshaping and rejuvenating the `32,000-crore export business to face the challenges of the future. It is also part of the BJP’s good governance goal.
The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst...