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.