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Cows Are At The Centre Of Gujarat Politics. Here’s why

| Updated: October 6, 2022 20:02

Cows are not a regular phenomenon in Gujarat, they are a way to win Gujarat. They are a key to unlocking people’s sentiments and no political party in the State can thrive without worshipping cows. Let’s start with our Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had to bow down to a cow in Ambaji to appease the Maldhari samaj of Gujarat. 

PM Modi launched Mukhyamantri Gau Mata Poshan Yojana in Banaskantha district

PM Modi launched Mukhyamantri Gau Mata Poshan Yojana in Banaskantha district where gaushalas under the Gujarat Gau Sewa Sangh let loose their cattle into government premises protesting the non-release of funds to them. 

500 Crores For cows’ welfare 

The scheme allocates Rs 500 crore under which Rs 30 will be spent per cow per day in registered panjrapols and gaushalas in Gujarat. Gujarat Gau Seva Sangh, a conglomerate of 1,750 cow shelters, panjrapols and gaushalas housing 4.5 lakh cattle in the state, has been agitating against the delay in releasing the fund of Rs 500 crore to registered cattle pounds and shelters.

BJP Withdraws Cattle bill 

On September 22, following stiff opposition from the Maldhari community, the Gujarat government withdrew the controversial Gujarat Cattle Control in Urban Areas Bill, 2022.  The government’s proposal was unanimously passed with support from the opposition Congress.

The bill was proposed to licence, regulate and prohibit cattle movements in urban areas, and was passed on the last day of the budget session in March, 2022.

When CR Paatil Accepted All demands of Maldhari community 

In August 2022, Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) launched a drive to demolish cattle sheds illegally built on government land. Following this, local police demolished 222 cattle sheds in all eight zones of the city and seized 1,293 cattle, which were sent to panjrapoles, in the past eight days. Members of Maldhari Samaj protested and this is when CR Paatil had to come into the picture. 

State BJP Chief CR Paatil

On September 3, State BJP Chief CR Paatil spoke to Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel in the presence of the Maldhari community members and accepted all the demands of the community at the meeting. He stopped the demolition drive and only then, did the members put their protest at a halt. 

Gujarat Budget is  Pro-Cows 

In March 2022, Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel announced a budget for the financial year and over Rs 500 crore was allocated for protecting cows in the state under Mukhyamantri Gau Mata Poshan Yojna. The money will be spent on running and maintenance of cowsheds and cow shelter homes. Besides, he also announced a provision of Rs 100 crores for addressing issues of stray cattle. 

BJP Maldhari cell president Sanjay Desai emphasised Kamdhenu University, Gandhinagar. He said, “BJP has always worked for the welfare of cows. The intention behind developing Kamdhenu University was to spread awareness about gau mutra, cow dung, cow milk, ghee and other aspects of a cow. We don’t believe in killing cows and will not spare those who do it. BJP brought in strict rules to restrict the sale or consumption of cows.”

Another aspect Desai focused on is Kamdhenu Aayog. He said, “It is only under BJP that Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog – an apex advisory body to address the issues related to conservation, protection and development of cows and their progeny–was formed.  It was created by a government resolution in February 2019 and it is an important arm to save gau mata.” 

Congress For Cows 

In a surprising move, Gujarat Congress has also included cows in their manifesto–for the first time. Earlier animals and their protection were on their agenda but this time, there will be a special mention of cows. Dr. Manish Doshi, Spokesperson for Congress said, “We will implement the Rajasthan model in Gujarat. Rs 5 per litre of subsidy on milk is provided to dairy farmers in Rajasthan and we will do the same. This is not to win elections but to care for cows in a genuine manner.”

Dr. Manish Doshi, Spokesperson for Congress

Congress also vouches for the renovation of gaushalas and hygiene checks in all the centres to provide a better environment for cows. “Grazing land can not be used for commercial purposes and if we come to power we will make sure that criminal procedure takes place against all offenders. Cows will have their land for grazing and we will also work to recruit more veterinarian doctors to save cows.” 

Aam Aadmi Party’s Cow politics 

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal recently announced that if voted to power in Gujarat, the party will provide Rs 40 per day for the maintenance of each cow in the state. On this, National AAP spokesperson Isudan Gadhvi said “ we will construct cattle ponds in each district where stray cows and those cows which have stopped producing milk can be kept. More such steps will be taken for cows.  If the AAP forms a government in Gujarat, we will give Rs 40 per day per cow (for maintenance). Cows are our dharma, our sanskruti and we need to save them.” 

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi government gives Rs 40 per day for the maintenance of each cow and the same will be replicated in Gujarat. 

During the spread of the lumpy virus among cattle in Gujarat–when over a lakh cow lost their lives to the deadly virus–AAP was the first to announce aid for the vaccination of cows. Earlier Isudan Gadhvi said, “If permitted AAP members can start a vaccination drive to save our gau mata. We are a small party but we will collect funds to vaccinate cows–as BJP neither has intention nor enough vaccines to save our cattle.” 

National AAP spokesperson Isudan Gadhvi

Maldhari Community-a major vote bank  

There are 1,500 cow shelters in Gujarat, which house around 4.5 lakh cows. Out of these, 170 shelters with 80,000 cows are in Banaskantha alone. The Maldharis, a cattle-rearing community, are a major vote bank in large parts of Gujarat and claim to be the kingmakers in around 42-46 assembly seats and three Lok Sabha constituencies. During election season, they flexed their political clout by threatening to withdraw their votes from the ruling BJP.

Maldhari Mahapanchayat’s spokesperson Naginbhai Desai appreciates that all political parties have cows on their agenda. He said, “This is a good thing but whichever party comes to power will have to remember what they promised for cows. We do not want to repeat a situation where cows are helplessly roaming on streets, people meet with accidents and ultimately the Maldhari suffers.”

Further Desai also suggested having safe spaces for cattle so that they don’t make their way on roads and create hindrances for people. 

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