In interview to Shubhangi Khapre, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis defends his govt’s move to ban cow/bullock slaughter and scrap Muslim quota in education and employment
How do you defend yourself against criticism about a hidden BJP agenda in banning beef and scrapping reservation for Muslims in education and jobs?
First of all, let me make it clear that my government has not imposed any ban on beef. There is a difference when you say ban on beef and ban on cow or cattle slaughter. Secondly, the ban on cow/bullock slaughter is not driven by any hidden or communal agenda. It was an old bill from 1997-98. My government has taken it to its logical end driven by agro economics. A cow or bullock can become an alternative means of livelihood for a farmer.
Why was your government so keen on the ban when the previous Congress-NCP government had not pursued it?
My question to the Congress and NCP is why they did not take a categorical stand on the ban. If they had strong objections and felt it was against the minorities, they should have scrapped the bill. In 1997-98, the Shiv Sena-BJP government moved the bill based on agricultural concerns to protect the cow and cattle. There were queries from the Centre. The Congress-NCP government should have replied to the queries and supported the bill, or they should have taken a firm stand and rejected the bill. By not pushing the bill they wanted to retain their Muslim vote base. At the same time by not rejecting it, they wanted to enjoy the support of those sections of Hindus who wanted the ban. However, let me make it clear, ban on cow or cattle slaughter has nothing to do with Muslims or Hindus that Congress-NCP has always evoked to serve their narrow politics.
Won’t the ban affect Muslims engaged in the trade?
It is not just Muslims but also Hindus who run the meat business or operate in slaughterhouses. There are Qureshis as well as Khatiks. Let’s not give it a Hindu versus Muslim character. Yes, as far as economic interests are concerned, they can divert to meat businesses other than cow and cattle. Moreover, my government is committed to launching a scheme for rehabilitation of those affected by the decision. They will be provided alternatives in the agriculture sector.
Your government has approved reservation for Marathas but scrapped reservation for Muslims? How do you explain this ?
Both these issues are pending in court. My government is not against Muslim reservation in education or jobs. Nor has my government scrapped any ordinance or refused to bring an Act. There was a contradiction in the court order which justified 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in education, but struck down reservation in jobs. Even in states where it was sanctioned, it has been challenged in court. We want to bring in an Act that would withstand legal and constitutional trial. I would like to clarify the ordinance issued by the previous government had lapsed. Moreover, those who have availed the benefits in education are protected.
How will you address the perception that your government is anti-Muslim?
By telling the truth. Is it not betraying the Muslims when their waqf land is sold for private use by Congress-NCP leaders? What answer will they give to those Muslims who believe waqf land is to serve the cause of Allah?
How do you plan to tackle a united Congress-NCP opposition now?
I assure you the Congress and the NCP can never unite, unlike the Shiv Sena and the BJP which have mastered the art of working together for decades.
The Shiv Sena has got very aggressive and is now virtually playing the role of the opposition.
Some differences on issues cannot be called a divide within the coalition. The Shiv Sena is very supportive, both in government and outside.