Eight of India’s top 10 major states ranked by their preference for vegetarianism are now BJP-ruled. And 8 of the top 10 major states ranked by their preference for non-vegetarian food are ruled by non-BJP parties, according to data from the Census of India’s Sample Registration System Baseline Survey, 2014.
There appears to be a correlation — although no causality — therefore, between the electorate’s leaning towards vegetarianism and its current political preference for the BJP.
Given the visible vegetarian underpinning to its state-wise spread in the country, it would appear to be more than simply coincidental that at least 6 BJP governments — beginning with Uttar Pradesh and followed by Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh — have chosen to go after the meat industry, clamping down on slaughterhouses and, in one case (Gujarat), declaring an intention to make the state “shakahari”.
While considering the top-10 listicles’ data, it is important to note, however, that India as a whole is non-vegetarian. Over 71% of the population consumes some form of meat, clearly dispelling the notion that India is predominantly vegetarian.
Even in the most vegetarian of the major states — Rajasthan — every fourth person consumes non-vegetarian food. And in Uttarakhand, the state that occupies the lowest — tenth — position among the top 10 states ranked by their preference for vegetarian food, as many as 73% consume non-vegetarian food.
The 2 non-BJP-ruled states in the list of top 10 states ranked by preference for vegetarianism are Punjab and Delhi. Jammu & Kashmir is also on this list — at number 9 — but the BJP is part of the coalition government there.
The 2 BJP-ruled states in the other listicle — ranked by preference for non-vegetarianism — are Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, both of which have large tribal populations. Vegetarianism in India, according to social scientists, is usually an upper caste trait.
Andhra Pradesh, ruled by NDA ally TDP, is also on the top 10 non-vegetarian listicle.
The survey data reflect an overwhelming north and west bias in the top 10 vegetarian preference states — the geographical region that the BJP now dominates.
The predominantly south and east states that are still largely out of the saffron wave occupy the top 10 non-vegetarian preference list entirely.
The BJP and its NDA allies now rule 17 out of India’s 29 states. Over 60% of the country’s population now lives in states ruled by the BJP either on its own or in partnership with an ally. Following the Assembly election results in March, the population under NDA-ruled states went up from 46.2% to 61.1% of the total. Going by Census 2011 data, the NDA states’ population of 740.1 million is now nearly 7 times that of states ruled by the Congress and its allies (107.2 million).