The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh is planning to build a "world class" golf course on the outskirts of Bhopal on land meant for grazing cattle. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who had announced last week that he would set up an independent cow ministry, is now under attack from the Opposition for "giving away the land meant for cows".
The Congress party has alleged that the proposed golf course is being created for the sake of "a few selected officers close to Shivraj Singh Chouhan who play golf".
"This shows the love Shivraj Singh Chouhan really has for cows. The BJP government has not been able to construct even a kabaddi ground for school-children but now it wants to build a golf course for the rich and that too on land meant for cows," said Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza.
The proposed golf course will come up on 100 acres of land near Kerwa Dam on the outskirts of Bhopal. These 100 acres are part of a 650-acre plot where a bull mother farm is presently operational.
There are more than 600 cows and bulls at this farm. The 100-acre portion that has been set aside for the golf course is presently used for grazing cows.
The state cabinet has already approved the golf course.
"The chief minister flagged a couple of issues but a go-ahead has been given in principle," said Narottam Mishra, parliamentary affairs minister in the Madhya Pradesh government.
When the matter came up before the Madhya Pradesh cabinet, revenue minister Uma Shankar Gupta raised an objection saying that the land was meant for grazing cattle.
When NDTV asked Mr Gupta about his opposition to the golf course, he said, "Cows are very important for us. The golf course is also important but it would not be set up at the cost of cows".
The controversy has given the Congress a stick to beat the BJP government with, ahead of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections later this year. The Congress in Madhya Pradesh has tried to portray itself as being a protector of cows, with its campaign in-charge Kamal Nath promising a gaushala in every Panchayat. The proposed golf course has given the party a chance to accuse the BJP of being hypocritical on the protection of cows.
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