Gaumata: Off the menu in northeast but remains BJP's main moo in Gujarat

Devyani Sultania
Gaumata: Off the menu in northeast but remains BJP's main moo in Gujarat

Is 'Gaumata' holy or unholy? The BJP has left its followers utterly confused! The party which shot to power in states like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh using 'cow' as a poll plank; says it won't ban cow-slaughter in the poll-bound Northeast.

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Adding to the confusion, the Gujarat Assembly on Friday (March 31) passed a Bill increasing the punishment for cow slaughter in the BJP-ruled state from 7-10 years, to life imprisonment. A fine of up to Rs 1 lakh could also be imposed on those found guilty of the crime, while the vehicle used in such a crime for transportation would be permanently confiscated. The offence is likely to be made cognisable and non-bailable.

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Recently, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh announced a crackdown on illegal and mechanised slaughterhouses in the state. This threatened the livelihood of over 25 lakh people involved in the industry. A party MLA also threatened to "break the limbs" of those who killed cows.

Let's not forget, a beef ban was also put in place in Maharashtra (2016) by the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government. Recently the Shiv Sena in Delhi ordered all meat shops to down their shutters on Tuesdays and during Navratri. The RSS has also been calling for a ban on beef in Jammu and Kashmir for a long time.

Separate yardstick for the northeast?

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However, the BJP government at the Centre has said that there would be no ban on beef in the three poll-bound north-eastern states of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat in 2011, his government had amended the Gujarat Animal Preservation Act, 1954, to impose a complete ban on the slaughtering and transportation of cows and progeny in the state. Since coming to power, the saffron party has continued to impose its dietary preferences upon the citizens of the country at large.

Prime Minister Modi maintained silence when self-made Gau-Rakshaks took it upon themselves to "punish" people from minority communities for cow slaughter. It took him one year to break his silence and condemn the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq, a resident of UP's Dadri village who was lynched in broad daylight by a mob who suspected him of storing beef in his house' refregirator.

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BJP's 'hypocritical' logic 

The BJP's logic behind not wanting to impose a ban on beef in the north-eastern states was this: "Ban on cow slaughter like the one in UP won't take effect in Nagaland if our party comes to power next year. The reality here is very different and our central leaders are aware of that," Visasolie Lhoungu, the BJP chief in Nagaland, had said. The Christians are in majority in the north-east and usually consume beef, which is also a cheaper option there.

If nothing else, the central government's stand on cow slaughter in the north-east is hypocrisy at best. How did the holy "Gaumata" become unholy in the northeast? Where did the love and respect for "Gaumata" disappear when the question of whether beef would be banned in the northeast came up? Where did all the bhakti go? Such questions are bothering many indians.

Poll-Bhakti?

With the BJP conveniently changing its stance on the issue now, all this looks like just a poll plank to gain power in the north-east. The party is well aware that their beef-ban strategy will work against them in the northeast; is that why 'Gaumata' is not considered holy or worthy of worship anymore? Moreover, doesn't the government have other important issues to deal with than policing our meal preferences? 

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