Mumbai, March 14: Once again reiterating its stand to stay away from interfering with the eating habits of the people of Northeast, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday stated that it will not impose the beef ban in the region. However, it is not clear whether the saffron party will maintain a similar stand in other parts of the country where the meat is not yet officially banned.
Tripura BJP-in-charge Sunil Deodhar said a ban on beef would not be imposed in the region as a majority of the people consume it as their "staple diet", reported ANI. The BJP after forming its governments in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland recently is in power in six out of the seven states of the region. Mizoram is the only state in the Northeast where there is a Congress government.
"If the majority of the population of a state is against the idea of beef consumption, chances are high that the government there will impose a ban (beef consumption). In certain states in the Northeast, people consume it; the government in power would not impose a ban," Deodhar, one of the main leaders credited for the BJP's spectacular win in the Tripura elections, told reporters in Mumbai.
Last year, the saffron party faced massive opposition in the Northeast after it issued notifications to ban the sale of cattle for slaughter across the country. Several of its own party leaders in Meghalaya protested against the decision. In opposition to the Centre's cattle sale and slaughter regulations, which many allege is the "backdoor" implementation of beef ban across the country, states like Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram hosted protest last year. People of these states also organised beef festivals to register their opposition to the decision of the BJP-ruled government at the Centre.
According to a survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) in 2015, northeastern states, except Tripura, are among the top beef eating places in the country. While Meghalaya topped the list with nearly 81 per cent of the population consuming beef or buffalo, in Nagaland 57 per cent and in Mizoram 23 per cent eat the meat on a regular basis.
Ahead of the elections in Meghalaya and Nagaland this year, the BJP faced difficulties wooing voters in the Christian-dominated states where beef is a popular food. However, the leaders of the party on several occasions clarified that the BJP is not going to interfere with the food habits of people.
Several BJP leaders have often made provocative statements to impose a beef ban in the country to save the cow population. In the Hindu religion, the cow is considered to be a sacred animal and thus the saffron party shares such concern for saving the animal. Last year, the country witnessed several incidents where people belonging to the minority community were attacked and killed on suspicion of eating or storing beef.