Weeks have passed since a bull stormed into a rally of the opposition alliance in Uttar Pradesh's Kannauj, but the dust kicked up by the incident is yet to settle down. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today remarked that the animal had gone there to teach a lesson to the "friends of butchers", obliquely alleging that opposition parties in the state support cow slaughter.
"Nandi (in a reference to the sacred bull that serves as Lord Shiva's mount) went to a mahagathbandhan rally to teach the 'friends of butchers' a lesson. But I told Nandi baba to spare them because the Model Code of Conduct is still in place due to the elections... it can continue its work after the polls," news agency ANI quoted the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister as saying at a rally in Kushinagar district today.
Yogi Adityanath had strengthened anti-cow slaughter laws in Uttar Pradesh soon after being appointed as its Chief Minister, directing police officers to expedite the closure of slaughterhouses and ensure a complete clampdown on cow slaughter. However, opposition parties claim that the stringent measures adopted by him have only served to encourage vigilante violence and flood the state with stray cattle.
The Chief Minister had taunted opposition parties in similar terms immediately after the Kannauj incident too. However, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said that the bull had only come to "air its grievances" at the rally. "It probably thought that a helicopter from Hardoi is coming... It had come with its own set of complaints," Mr Yadav quipped, leaving the audience in splits.
Today's comment by Yogi Adityanath also seemed to contain a subtle dig at the Election Commission, which had censured him for 78 hours last month for referring to the military as Modiji ki Sena (PM Modi's Army).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to express a similar sentiment when he controversially claimed at a recent rally in Kushinagar that one needn't acquire the Election Commission's clearance before addressing issues affecting the nation. "If faced by terrorists armed with bombs and guns, should my jawans go to the Election Commission to seek permission to shoot?" he asked.
The Samajwadi Party has joined hands with the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal to take on the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in the ongoing Lok Sabha election. The Congress - which was not included in the grand alliance - is fighting the polls separately.
(With inputs from ANI)