West Bengal and Kerala rejects cattle trade ban

The ban on the sale of animals for slaughter at livestock markets and at animal fairs by the centre has created a countrywide uproar.

The countrywide chorus against this notification by centre grew louder on Monday, with Kerala CM writing a letter to all other CMs to oppose these new regulations.

Also, Mamata Banerjee CM of West Bengal on Monday said that she won’t implement these new rules.

Describing the move as “undemocratic, unconstitutional and unethical”, Mamata said the state will seek a review by the Supreme Court if needed. The Puducherry government too raised the standard of dissent, saying it will not implement the ban and passed a resolution in the assembly to register its protest against the notification. The move has also caused consternation in the Christian-majority states of Meghalaya and Nagaland.

While the non-BJP-ruled states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu witnessed fitful protests, keeping it a hot-button political issue, the Karnataka government said it would weigh all options to challenge the ban in court. Mamata said the Centre’s move infringed upon the rights of states.

“Prevention, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases come under the state list. So do markets and fairs and also trade and commerce. I don’t know why the Centre is encroaching upon state matters time and again and taking decisions unilaterally,” she said.

Accusing the Modi government of crossing the “Lakshman rekha”, the Bengal CM said, “Let’s not forget that a state government, like the Centre, is elected. A government should not exceed its brief, endangering democracy and secularism. Nothing remains if a government bulldozes states and destroys the federal structure.”

The uproar against this beef ban has been seen in other states also.

Protests erupted across Tamil Nadu, with several parties, including the opposition DMK, slamming the “silent” state government for not opposing the Centre on the issue.

DMK working president M K Stalin is to lead the protest on Wednesday, a party statement said. “The decision has affected the village economy. Several states have expressed their opposition to the ban, but the Tamil Nadu government is silent on it, and it is condemnable,” the statement added.

In Trichy, members of the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam raised slogans and distributed beef. Around 150 of them were detained for attempting to hit an effigy of Prime Minster Narendra Modi with slippers.

Accusing BJP of imposing the Hindutva ideology across the country, Tamilar Desiya Munnani president Pazha Nedumaran called Tamil nationalist organisations to join an agitation on May 31 in Trichy. PMK chief S Ramadoss also warned of protests from his party members.

Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy said he would write to the PM urging him to withdraw the notification. If needed, legislation will be passed declaring that the Union government’s notification will not be implemented, he said. “Beef is an integral part of French cuisine in the former French colony of Puducherry,” he added.

The Karnataka government is contemplating challenging the Centre’s new rule in court. “We are studying the Centre’s notification, and it appears very confusing. We have to see if the new regulation conforms to the 1960 law,” said T B Jayachandra, Karnataka’s law minister.

Jayachandra added, “The Centre cannot introduce new rules unilaterally without considering provisions of the state’s laws. The subject is on the concurrent list, and in the case of a conflict between the Centre and state, the issue can be resolved only through presidential intervention.”

With assembly elections in Karnataka less than a year away, the issue is likely to figure prominently in the political discourse over the next few months.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) spokesperson V S Ugrappa alleged that BJP was trying to foment communal tension. “Cow protection is BJP’s new method to create trouble in society. But we will not allow disruptive politics to thrive in the state,” he said.

In what could be termed as the first step for “beef diplomacy” that may even turn out to be a movement to unite non-BJP CMs, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote letters to all his fellow CMs expressing concern over the recent guidelines issued by the Centre to regulate cattle trade.

He urged all his counterparts to stand together “to oppose this anti-federal, anti-democratic and anti-secular move, it may mark the beginning of a series of similar measures aimed at destroying the federal democratic fabric and secular culture of our country”.

Vijayan had written a similar letter to Modi on May 20, urging him to withdraw the new notification issued by the environment ministry. A copy of that letter was also enclosed in the letter to CMs.

Meanwhile, the Kerala high court asked the Union government to respond to the four petitions challenging the ban. The court sought a formal response as the difference of opinion between the Centre and state governments on the issue became apparent at the admission hearing held on Monday.

The petitions were filed by Youth Congress state general secretary T G Sunil, MLA Hibi Eden, PU Kunju Muhammed, who owns a meat shop at Kaloor market, and another person. During the admission hearing on the petitions, the state government submitted that the ban was an infringement on its rights and that the Centre had encroached upon the powers of the state.

In Shillong, a senior BJP official allayed fears that the ban would affect the availability of beef in the state. “Question of (banning) beef here does not arise as most BJP leaders in Meghalaya eat it,” the party’s Tura district president, Bernard N Marak, said.


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