Will Centre’s cattle trade ban affect BJP’s polls prospects in Meghalaya & Mizoram?


SHILLONG, May 30: With the assembly elections 2018 just around the corner, the centre's decision to restrict the sale of cattle has acted as a deterrent for the BJP's prospects in the upcoming polls in Meghalaya and Mizoram.

The waves of success that the BJP has enjoyed in Northeast India appears to be a major threat for the congress party, which had earlier held the reign until recently when the BJP brought down the mighty congress regime in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

All seems to be going quite well for the saffron party in Northeast but critics are of the view that this one decision might just sabotage the BJP's years-long hardwork to dethrone the congress and gain public's support and everything that they have built in these 2-3 years might just come crashing down.

The gazette notification issued by the environment ministry recently banning the sale of cattle for slaughter across the country is likely going to affect the BJP in states like Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland especially considering the fact that Christian-dominated states of Meghalaya and Mizoram are going to polls next year.

The centre's decision was out-rightly rejected in some parts of South India and Northeast India with political leaders and social organisation raising their opposition against this move terming this act as 'Anti-secular'.

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In Meghalaya, citizens ranging from political leaders, traditional heads to common people have opposed this move while demanding the NDA government to erase this notification adding that a fancy name – 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017' is not going to change the fact that this is an attempt to ban cow slaughter once and for all in the country.

## Meghalaya Former union minister and congress LS member,Vincent H.Pala has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rolled back on the decision and said that only Parliament can amend the relevant act and states must be consulted before any decision is reached.

In a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pala said such rules cannot be framed by the Centre because a new legislation cannot be adopted without the sanction of any provision of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

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"Reasonable exemptions must be granted so that these new rules do not interfere with religious and customary practices and freedom," he said adding that the New Rule (e)(ii) should qualify the word "sacrifices" by an exception "sacrifice other than for religious and customary practices."

## Earlier, chairman of the Dorbar Ki Khlieh Nongsynshar Ka Ri Hynniewtrep John F Kharshiing has criticised this move stating that it is a 'weird act' which cannot be accepted by the indigenous communities of Meghalaya as it is tantamount to attacking their food habits.

## Meanwhile, Meghalaya cabinet minister Zenith Sangma Taxation Minister Zenith Sangma commented, "I strongly oppose and condemn this decision which is of a dictatorial nature".

Coming down heavily on the BJP, Sangma said "It was known from before that once BJP comes to power at the centre these kind of things will happen, now this Government has started dictating the people of the state what to eat and what not to eat actually it is the right of the citizen of the country to reside anywhere to propagate and accept any religion anywhere and to eat anything one desires to that is the essence of secular fabric".

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## What may be feasibly at the centre might not be the same at the state. This is exactly what happened when ideologies does not matches with the social fabrics of the state. Meghalaya BJP unit has spoken. "Union Minister declaring ban on cow slaughter can be given at his capacity at the Union Government and Cow slaughter is a state subject" said BJP state vice President David Kharsati adding "I don't want this subject to be camouflage, go and check constitution you will see Cow slaughter is a state subject, this place is cold and people love meat here".

## Reacting to the ban, a local meat vendor, P Mawiong said angrily commented, "Just because PM Modi has the power to enforce a law, doesn't mean he has to do it without thinking about the other communities who have been eating beef for generations now. Why attack our food habits?"

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This decision has invited lots of drama, confusion and criticisms in Meghalaya, and even BJP leaders have threatened to call it quits if the centre refuses to revert its decision. JA Lyngdoh, a former minister who recently joined the saffron brigade has threatened to quit the party unless the decision is changed.

However, when contacted, BJP national spokesperson and in-charge of Meghalaya Nalin S Kohli refuses to comment on this issue stating that Mr Lyngdoh hasn't talked about this issue with the BJP central body. "I'm visiting Shillong tomorrow (Wednesday) and I'll clear all the doubts but as of now I have no comments," he said.

Earlier, while speaking on this issue, Kohli said "I don't think it's a cattle ban, there is some confusion about this. I think most people who are reacting and saying it is a nation-wide cattle ban are actually talking without having seen the notification. It has more to do with cattle protection not ban."

By Ibankyntiew Mawrie — The writer can be reached at mawrie.iban@gmail.com or iban@thenortheasttoday.com