In a special one-day session of the Kerala Assembly on Thursday, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) came together to oppose the Centre’s new ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter. Calling the ban ‘fascist’, the House passed a resolution asking the Centre to withdraw the resolution. The only member to oppose the decision was BJP’s O Rajagopal.
Members of both fronts said the notification was an ‘intrusion’ into the state’s rights and an ‘infringement’ on people’s food habits. They agreed the ban was not only “communal” in nature, but also “anti-working class” and “anti-farmer”. They also alleged the move was an attempt to corporatise the meat-trading sector.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has opposed the Centre’s ban since it was notified, said the Centre was imposing a ban based on the political agenda of the Sangh Parivar. Moving the resolution, he said, “The NDA government, that has failed to fulfil any of its promises, was raking up issues such as cattle slaughter to divide the people through communal polarisation for political gains.” He elaborated on the negative consequences the ban would have on the agrarian, dairy, leather and meat export sectors.
“The notification is impractical in Kerala where 95 per cent of the population is non-vegetarian. It is clearly an intrusion into the citizens’ choice of food,” Vijayan said. The chief minister has written to other states asking them to ‘stand together’ and ‘oppose’ the ban along with Kerala.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala described the ban as another ‘surgical strike’ by the Narendra Modi-led government, similar to that of the note ban. He added it was ‘a sign of arrival of fascism’ in the country. “Modi has transformed himself into ‘abhinava Hitler’ (neo Hitler),” he said.
Rajagopal said the unity between the two fronts symbolised a ‘grand alliance’ forming at the national level to take on the BJP.
Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan claimed there was an ‘indirect interest’ behind the notification.