BJP on Friday said the decision to enforce Maharashtra Animal Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 1995 banning slaughter of cow and cattle (bullocks) was not part of communal agenda but in larger interest of farmers in Maharashtra. The state government’s decision has evoked strong reactions across political parties and social organisations alleging the BJP’s hidden agenda.
State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told Indian Express, “Where is the communal agenda involved in this decision? In 1923, Mahatma Gandhi had first talked about – Go vansh bandhi – (ban on cow slaughter) to promote the village economy. The architect of Indian Constitution Dr B R Ambedkar has made the provision to facilitate state government to take the decisions.” The minister also referred to Chhatrapati Shivaji who also considered cows (govansh) important.
Several organisations including Congress and prominent persons like Motilal Vohra, Dadasaheb Dharmadhikari have pursued the ban on cow/bullock slaughter for last several decades, Mungantiwar added.
While ban on cow slaughter already existed in the state, last week the government’s act which got the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee’s consent, ensured it would be now extended to entire cattle family.
The Congress and NCP have accused the state government for playing communal card by raking up issues which hurt the minorities in the state. However, Congress appeared a divided house on this issue as leader of opposition – Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil welcomed the decision with a warning, “It should be transparently executed. There should be no political twist to the decision.”
However, senior NCP leader Nawab Malik said, “ The ban on cow slaughter is part of the BJP-Sena agenda. What is clearly being overlooked is the economic interests of large section of people who indulge in the meat trade and also those who eat cattle meat.”
He added, “Nobody is against ban on cow slaughter. But when it is extended to other cow family like bullock etc it shows government’s mindset.”
The Finance Minister said, “In Maharashtra when there is a recurring drought like situation and they are under financial constrain they are often lured by the slaughter houses to sell their cattle at throw away prices. However, when the same farmers go to acquire new bullocks it becomes out of their reach financially. The government through laws want to dissuade traders from luring farmers on cow and cattle purchase by enforcing ban and punishment.” The new act ensured a strict punishment up to Rs 10,000 and imprisonment.