BJP Okays Beef On Meghalaya's Political Platter For Now

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By-elections to elect a Lok Sabha member from Tura in Meghalaya was held on Sunday.

Meghalaya:  Even as the beef controversy heats up in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of North India, BJP has no plans to go hard on the beef eaters of North East. 

The party, which won the Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur elections, is now eyeing Meghalaya - the state with the highest beef consumption in the region. 

BJP's ally, the North East Democratic Allliance (NEDA), is also eyeing Mizoram and Nagaland - states where beef is consumed.

"Our party is very sensitive towards North East. We know it has different culture and traditions. Our aim is the economic development of region, so we do not want to bogged down by an issue which has no economic, political and cultural consequence in here," Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam Finance Minister and Chairman, NEDA, told NDTV.

Locals are however sceptical.

"In Assam, the law is very clear - you can slaughter a cow above 14 years. Still they went ahead and arrested some people for carrying beef openly. This is the kind of message they are sending. That if they want, they can interfere and impose their vision of culture," said Tarun Bharatiya, an award-winning filmmaker and activist from Shillong.

But BJP's state leadership is already has a few things to say about beef.

"People are having beef here. But the time has come that we should bring the law on how people should start eating hygienic food, by bringing the slaughter house in proper order," Shibun Lyndoh, President, BJP Meghalaya State Committee, told NDTV.

Meghlaya has no beef ban law and gets its cattle (import removed) from Assam. Over the last year, price of beef has shot up in Shillong due to rampant smuggling of cattle to neighbouring Bangladesh.

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"Food habits totally depend upon individual choice. Politics should not enter the dining table and dictate food habits," Shillong-based Tarif Amin said.

As BJP steps up its political mobilisation in Christian-dominated Meghalaya, the party has been careful on how to use its Hindutva doctrine while trying to create a base.

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