The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have virtually banned beef in the country through its recent directive that puts severe restrictions on the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter. However, a BJP leader from Meghalaya is literally endorsing the opposite line, saying that the saffron party would, in fact, make beef cheaper in the state if it is voted to power.
Meghalaya is set to go to polls in the next year, and the party is looking to secure a victory by defeating the Congress.
The state is predominantly Christian, with the community accounting for 74.59% of the state’s population, as per the census, and beef is widely consumed among its citizens.
“The Centre wants to ban beef consumption, but it should not apply to the Christian-majority states where most people consume meat including beef. Any ban has to be on public consensus. Meghalaya being a tribal state, we want the sentiments of the people to be respected,” Bernard Marak, who is the BJP’s Tura unit president, told the New Indian Express.
He also advised the government to focus on governance, rather than on people’s dietary choices. “It (Centre) should instead focus on good governance and should not intrude into someone’s private practices. I already spoke with our state leadership about it and they will shortly write to the Central leaders. We will also raise the issue when Nalin Kohli (the BJP Meghalaya in-charge) visits the state on Tuesday,” Marak added.
In a statement issued to the media on May 28, 2017, the state BJP leader from Garo Hills also said that the party would legalise slaughterhouses in the Garo Hills, if it came to power.
“The question of banning beef does not arise in a state like Meghalaya, especially in the Garo Hills. BJP leaders in Meghalaya are well aware of the historical background and the constitutional provisions over the hill areas and beef ban cannot be imposed in Meghalaya,” Marak told The Shillong Times.
However, state BJP chief Shibun Lyngdoh said that Marak’s views on bringing down the price were his own, and not those of the party.
Defending the Centre’s move, Lyngdoh said that the latest ban would curb smuggling of cows to neighbouring Bangladesh.
The Centre’s trade ban, that will adversely impact poor farmers and drastically reduce supplies to the country’s ₹1 lakh-crore meat industry, has seen protests from different states in the country, ever since it issued the notification last week.