BJP’s All Talk and No Action on Cow Protectionby Opinion Express August 31, 2018 0 comments
The BJP’s talks on the importance of cow protection don’t hold water. Only unbiased actions on the ground would make a significant difference.
A few weeks back, while commenting on the repeated instances of alleged mob killings by vigilantes in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, Gyan Dev Ahuja, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Rajasthan, said that India is a country which respects mothers and birth-givers, like the cow and any “misbehaviour” with the mother will not be tolerated. He then went on to state that while terrorists kill two to five people, slaughtering of cows hurts sentiments of several thousands and, therefore, the killing of cattle is more heinous an act than terrorism.
In this week’s column, I would like to examine whether the BJP actually tows the strict line that its MLAs and MPs keep parroting; or is this just another instance of the party milking a holy animal purely for political points at the cost of both human and bovine lives.
As opposed to the story that the BJP keeps peddling of how the holy animal of million of Hindus is under threat, Indians have always recognised the importance of the cow as a sacred animal. The importance of the cow is obviously evident from a religious point of view, wherein sacred texts such as the Vedas and Puranas talk about its importance. It’s significance is reflected in India’s agrarian roots too.
The cow, which provides milk and dung has always been admired and revered by Indian farmers. This respect is also reflected in the Constitution, wherein the framers of our Constitution recognised the importance that has been accorded to the cow and included Article 48 in the Constitution, which states: “The state shall endeavor to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.” In furtherance of this objective, several States, therefore, passed laws banning cow slaughter and India’s Supreme Court, in 1958, upheld state laws banning the slaughter of cows.
Therefore, India has a well-documented history of adopting a respectful approach towards the cow. Then came the BJP in 2014 with its bells and whistles approach: The typical ‘shouting from the rooftops but clueless about on the ground reality’ approach to politics, which the BJP is now infamous for. The BJP constantly harps about the importance of the cow and accuses other political parties of being inconsiderate towards them and, therefore, showing a lack of respect for religious beliefs of millions of Hindus. They followed up this allegation by setting up gaushalas to show the rest of us just how deeply the BJP cared about the protection of the cow. Unfortunately, for the BJP, talk is cheap. To implement meaningful change, one requires to show effort, will and persistence of action, something that the BJP has absolutely failed to do and, therefore, we can add this to the list of jumlas of the BJP.
An indicator of the BJP’s inclination to actually improve the state of the cow in the country is the current state of
gaushalasin various States ruled by the party. The fact is that almost all gaushalas barely receive Government support. These gaushalas instead are primarily privately managed by volunteers, and are usually funded by religious trusts that rely on donations.
There are close to 450 gaushalas in both Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and while the BJP talks about protection of cows, officials, while talking about State-run gaushalas, have called them “slaughter houses without machines”. This because gaushalas suffer from a severe lack of funds and personnel. This leads to a situation where thousands of cows are dying in abysmal conditions because of diseases, starvation et al. In Jalore (Rajasthan), for example, in the month of July 2017, 700 cows died in gaushalas due to incessant rains and the trust, which operates a number of these gaushalas, alleged that the State Government offered no help. Similarly, in Hingonia gaushala in Jaipur, close to a 1,000 cattle die on an average in any particular month. There are innumerable other examples of such deaths occurring in gaushalas around the country, about which the BJP has done absolutely nothing.
The irony here is tragic. Because when Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched on ‘the suspicion’ of hoarding beef, Sakshi Maharaj, a five-time MP from Unnao, commented that they are ready to kill and get killed for cow protection. These deaths of cows in gaushalas, however, are a matter of record. A penny then, for Sakshi Maharaj’s views on these deaths.
The problem is further exacerbated now since there are stricter laws in place for cow slaughter. Therefore, a number of cows are being released into the cities where civic bodies are unclear about how to deal with the menace and gaushalas are not in a position to accept any stray cows due to lack of funds and personnel. As per reports, in Delhi, for example, civic bodies had impounded close to 700 cattle in May alone. One can imagine the predicament, both civil bodies and operators of gaushalas face. They have to deal with ground realities while the BJP only talks about protection of cows with absolutely no follow through.
This approach towards the issue of cows is no different from the approach adopted by the BJP on other matters. The fact is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP miss no opportunity to score political points. This is evident from the numerous schemes that have been announced by the BJP, where more funds are spent on marketing the scheme rather than ensuring its actual implementation. Whether it is the Smart Cities Mission or the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana — all of the BJP’s schemes follow similar path. This was also evident after the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, where his own niece accused the BJP of making his death a political spectacle.
The issue of slaughter of cattle has always been sensitive due to religious significance of cows to Hindus, but this matter has become especially inflammable now because of an environment of hate and polarisation created by the BJP. While Prime Minister Modi says that the State should strictly deal with “cow vigilantes”, who mercilessly assault individuals on mere suspicions of cattle slaughter, it is obvious that either the BJP leaders do not listen to Modi or that these are just empty statements.
This is all the more apparent from a recent report in The Washington Post, where a vigilante on record says, “Earlier, there was a fear that the Government would arrest us, but now with the Yogi Government, we don’t have any fear.” This reckless disregard for the rule of law and fearlessness is a direct product of the hateful rhetoric of the BJP.
Even the recent floods in Kerala, where hundreds of lives were lost, was used as a political gimmick when Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, a BJP MLA from Karnataka, blamed the floods in Kerala on the consumption of beef by the people of Kerala. I wonder what Yatnal’s scientific explanations are for the 2017 floods in Gujarat then?
What will be interesting to see is whether these leaders of the BJP, who show such fervour in attacking individuals that harm cows, have a critical view of State Governments in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where thousands of cattle die every year due to neglect and lack of state protection. My hunch is that such a reaction from the BJP will not be forthcoming. Therefore, it is apparent that unlike cow dung (which has use as fertiliser, a source of power generation et al), the rhetoric of the BJP serves no end other than to encourage hatred and division on the pretext of protection of a holy animal.
Writer: Ajoy Kumar
Courtesy: The Pioneer