Shillong, May 31: Now, get ready for a fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Sounds strange? Not, when it comes to the contentious issue of beef.
At a time when the ruling BJP-led government at the Centre came up with a set of rules to restrict sale of cattle for slaughter to end "animal cruelty", it is not just the opposition parties like the Left and the Congress that have raised protest against the decision.
In the Northeastern region of the country, mostly dominated by tribal population and where beef is consumed widely and openly, the latest all-India ban on bovine sale and slaughter has not gone down well with the members of the saffron party also.
In Meghalaya, where the saffron party is trying its best to establish its rule in the upcoming assembly polls slated in 2018, BJP leaders in the state have come out in the open to protest against the Centre's latest diktat.
In fact, a leader of the BJP in Meghalaya on Tuesday threatened to quit the party if the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government refused to repeal the new cattle trade rules.
"Most party leaders in Meghalaya are not happy with the new rules which are directly affecting the socio-economic status of the people," BJP Vice President John Antonius Lyngdoh told IANS.
Lyngdoh said the party members went into a huddle on Monday and discussed the issue in depth.
"We cannot accept the new rules on cattle trade and slaughter. We cannot go against our food behaviour besides putting the economic interest of those people dealing in cattle trade and slaughter in jeopardy," the former food and civil supplies minister said.
He added, "It will be difficult for the candidates to campaign as the electorate won't back a party which goes against the interests of the people."
However, BJP president Shibun Lyngdoh dismissed Lyngdoh's threat. "I would not like to comment on the new rules as it is a legal matter but those who want to leave the party are free to do so."
On Monday, a BJP leader, Bernard Marak, said his party won't ban beef and instead legalise slaughter houses if it comes to power in the state.
"In Meghalaya most BJP leaders eat beef. The question of banning beef does not arise in a state like Meghalaya," he said.
Likewise, Meghalaya's main opposition party and an ally of the BJP-- the National People's Party has also appealed PM Modi to reconsider the cattle slaughter regulation. The party chief, Conrad Sangma, wrote a letter to the PM Modi, seeking his personal intervention in the matter.
The ruling Congress in the state has termed the regulation on cattle slaughter "unconstitutional" and part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's hidden agenda to bring blanket ban on beef across the country.
Meghalaya was ranked the top beef-consuming state in the country where 80.74 per cent of the population eats beef, ahead of Lakshadweep and Nagaland, according to the latest National Sample Survey Office.
"Tribal states like Meghalaya, etc. should be exempted from the application of these rules (the newly promulgated Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulations of livestock Markets) rules, 2017)," former union minister and Congress MP Vincent H Pala said in a petition submitted to the Prime Minister's Office on Monday.