News Leak Centre

Beef Row: BJP clarifies they won’t impose beef ban in North-East India

As BJP wants to expand their footprint in the North Eastern states of India by the means of coalition formula, a top brass leader, behind closed doors, assured the leaders of North Eastern states that the party is not in the mood to dictate what people should eat. The assurance comes a day after when the NDA government’s new tourism minister KJ Alphons called eating beef a matter of choice of Keralites.

The development came-up at the closed-door meeting of the North-East Democratic Alliance, or NEDA, a coalition formed by the BJP last year with the support of the regional political parties. At a meeting, party President Amit Shah made it clear that he wanted to see the coalition in power in all of the eight states of the North-East.

It is in the presentation by Sikkim leaders the topic came. Becoming the first state in the North-East, Sikkim has banned all kinds of cow slaughter with a punishment of minimum two year of imprisonment.

In a clarification asked by the leaders Paul Lyngdoh and PM Conrad Sangma on the matter if ban on beef is really a matter of policy. Meghalaya is among the four states in the North-East which is set to go on polls next year apart from Tripura, Mizoram and Nagaland. Following the difference in the party’s belief and ideological thinking of putting a ban on beef, and not respecting local customs and food habits, many of the BJP from Meghalaya had exited the party in June.

In the meeting, Himanta Biswa Sarma, a senior BJP leader and NDA convenor, intervened when the question about food habits came up in the presence of BJP president Amit Shah. Mr Sarma is learnt to have told the gathering that the BJP did not want to interfere with the food habit or local customs of people.

He also went on to say that every state was at liberty to draft laws according to local customs and rituals.

“The party completely respects cultural diversity,” they were reportedly told. While Amit Shah did not speak on the subject, he apparently went along with that.

In the past when junior home minister Kiren Rijiju who is from Arunachal Pradesh reportedly ticked off a ministerial colleague about his right to eat beef, he had backtrack later, claiming that he was misquoted. Mr Rijiju’s remarks were then in response to Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s statement that those who eat beef should go to Pakistan.

PM Narendra Modi Aims At Making Northeast ‘Gateway to Southeast Asia’

The government aims to make Northeast India a gateway to Southeast Asia and was making huge investments in the overall development of the region, but the lack of cleanliness could hamper this dream, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.

“If such a beautiful gateway is unclean, diseased, illiterate or misbalanced, then it will fail to cross the gateway of the country’s development. There is no reason why, with all our resources, we should remain backward or poor,” the Prime Minister said.

Addressing the centenary celebrations of the prominent voluntary organization, Bharat Sevashram Sangha, in Shillong through video conferencing, he lamented that “only Gangtok had found a place among the first 50 clean cities”, out of the 12 cities from the Northeast surveyed as part of the recent nationwide cleanliness survey.

While four Northeastern cities found a place between 100 and 200 clean cities, seven were positioned between 200 and 300, with Shillong being the 276th, he said while stressing that ‘Swachhata’ or cleanliness was a major challenge for everyone in the region.

“We have to make the Northeast a gateway for Southeast Asia,” Modi said, adding if this gateway is dirty, then the dream would not be fulfilled and asked the people and organizations like the Sangha to join hands with the state governments and their agencies in the cleanliness campaign.

Observing that there has been no balanced development in the entire Northeast so many years after Independence, Modi said his government, “with all its resources”, had planned to bring about balanced development of the states here. He said the major thrust was to improve connectivity and develop the entire region for tourism purposes.

“All these initiatives will help to make the Northeast the gateway of Southeast Asia,” he said. While an investment of Rs40,000 crore is being made to improve the road infrastructure in the entire Northeast, 19 big railway projects have also been started in the region, he said. “We are also improving the electricity situation in the Northeast and trying to bring even more tourists to the region,” Modi said.

Announcing that the Northeast would soon be connected with UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik) scheme, he said small airports were also being developed in the region, while the extension of the runway at Shillong airport has been approved.

The Bharat Sevashram Sangha is a network of volunteers across the globe engaged in helping people in distress. The Sangha’s social welfare activities include disaster relief, spreading education, providing healthcare facilities, vocational training, and upliftment of the tribals.

Lauding the role of the Sangha in playing a critical role during natural calamities, the Prime Minister said a myth was sought to be created that spirituality and service cannot go together. “The Bharat Sevashram Sangha has been able to dispel this myth, through its work,” he said, saying that societal development through ‘Bhakti’, ‘Shakti’ and ‘Jan Shakti’ was achieved by Swami Pranavananda, the Sangha’s founder. He said Sangha, with more than 100 branches and over 500 units, had rendered services during various calamities, starting from the Bengal famine in 1923 and Noakhali riots in 1946 to Bhogal gas leakage in 1980, the Tsunami in 2004 and 2013 Uttarakhand tragedy.

(Source: PTI)