The BJP’s district unit president in Meghalaya’s Tura, who had announced a beef festival to mark three years of the Narendra Modi government, has resigned from the party to protest against its stand on the beef issue. Bernard Marak said that he was not permitted to hold the beef festival even though the BJP had announced that there would be no restriction on beef consumption in the state.
BJP’s Meghalaya in-charge Nalin Kohli, who accepted Marak’s resignation, said the party had been considering removing Marak as part of its district-level preparations for the Assembly polls scheduled for February. Marak told The Indian Express, “I resigned over the beef issue. Beef is an integral part of our culture and diet. To celebrate the third anniversary of our PM’s term, we planned a festival in Tura and a huge feast where we would have served beef and our local rice beer — bitchi.”
“When we put forth the proposal, senior leaders told us we could not do it. Nalin Kohli bluntly told us that this could not be done. I asked why. We are not Hindus, we are Christians and tribals. All tribes in Meghalaya eat beef. Their attempt is to impose Hindu culture on us,” he said. Marak said the BJP’s district units had worked hard to convince people that “BJP is not a communal party but stands for progress and development’’. “But when they issue notifications like this and refuse to let us celebrate according to our traditions and culture, they are acting on communal lines,’’ he said.
Reacting to Marak’s allegations, Kohli said it was a political ploy because he was likely to have been removed from his party post for “sabotage”against the BJP’s likely candidates for the Assembly polls. “Over the past couple of months, BJP has been engaged in assessing preparedness for the polls. We had received complaints of infighting and attempts to sabotage prospects of possible candidates. Marak was the most prominent among the leaders under the scanner,” he said.
Kohli added that Marak was using the beef issue for political mileage as he wanted to contest from Tura. “We are here to win the elections, not give tickets in charity. Beef is not an issue in Meghalaya. There is no beef ban,” he said.