BJP MP and Dalit leader Udit Raj, who triggered a row by tweeting that Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won nine Olympic medals after following his trainer’s advice to eat beef, on Monday said that there should be no restrictions on people’s eating habits.
As his tweet, posted on Sunday evening, created a controversy, Raj said his intention was to convey that sportspersons and society should “look at ways to win rather (than) blaming circumstances and (the) government”. Food habit, he said, is an athlete’s “choice”.
The BJP has been facing flak for the increasing attacks on Dalits and minorities by self-proclaimed cow vigilante groups in the name of cattle protection.
Speaking about food habits, Raj, MP from Northwest Delhi, told The Indian Express, “Let us not put any restriction on what to eat and what not to eat. Article 48 of the Constitution says cow and its breed used for cultivation and milching should be protected. This does not include beef, with a wider connotation. This article cannot be used to ban beef.” Asked whether he meant BJP governments were wrong in imposing a ban on beef, the MP said, “Let me put it this way: let’s not have any restriction on what to eat and what not to eat.”
MoS for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale said he partly agrees with Raj. “I agree with his statement that Bolt became strong after eating beef,” Athawale told reporters. “But if we look at sportspersons in general, those eating beef, or mutton, and even vegetarians get awards. It’s not that only by eating beef you eat get such awards.”
There is a ban on cow slaughter, but there is no opposition to those who want to eat buffalo meat, Athawale added.
A statement from Raj’s office said he did not comment on anything related to beef consumption, and that his tweet was misinterpreted by sections of media.