- Opposition walking in the footsteps of BJP in Madhya Pradesh
- Congress adds cow-protection on its to-do list
- BJP talks about cows but does nothing, says Kamal Nath
The opposition Congress is going all out to regain power in Madhya Pradesh - a state where it has been bested in the elections by the BJP for three consecutive terms. But the opposition party, which has been claiming huge anti-incumbency in the state, is walking in the footsteps of the ruling party.
The Congress has added dollops of religion to its strategy for the state elections that are due by the end of this year. Not only are its leaders making a beeline for temples during their ongoing mass contact programme, the party has now added cow protection on its to-do list.
Kamal Nath, the party's election in-charge in Madhya Pradesh, led the way on Sunday, at a rally in Ganjbasoda, Vidisha district. "Look at the condition of cows... They (the BJP) always keep talking about the cows but do nothing for them. If we are voted to power, we will construct a gaushala (cow shelter) in every Panchayat".
The BJP, which opened the first-of-its-kind sanctuary for cows in the state, has been more amused than offended. Party spokesperson Dr Hitesh Bajpai said, "It is good that they are now remembering the gau mata. They organised beef parties and they know nothing about the social and economic importance of the cow". Then in a dig at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, he added, "They perform yagna while wearing shoes."
The Congress defended its stand as one meant to address the problem of stray cattle. Denying that there was any politics in it, Congress spokesperson Shobha Ojha said it is a "matter of faith". "Look at the condition of the Gau Mata. They are eating plastic and dying," she said.
The population of cattle in Madhya Pradesh is over 90 lakh, but only around 1.5 lakh cows are taken care of at the 604 registered cow shelters in the state. Nearly an equal number roam free on roads.
Cow vigilantism, however, has been on the rise in the BJP-ruled state. Several instances of people being beaten to death have been reported from various pockets of the state. The last of these took place in Ujjain in May, when a man, suspected of slaughtering cattle, died after a severe thrashing by a mob.
The area had witnessed a similar incident last year. In a widely circulated video, a group was seen punching and kicking a thin young man, demanding angrily whether he would slaughter a cow again. The police said it was a case of personal enmity.