Cow protection outfits from across the country have warned the Bharatiya Janata Party of disastrous consequences if they didn’t pay heed to cow welfare ahead of the crucial state elections and the general elections in 2019.
“There is a strong undercurrent in the country. People in states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan strongly feel for the cow. So far, the BJP has only paid lip service to cow welfare and used gau mata just for political gains,” warned Vijay Khurana, the national convenor of Rashtriya Gaudhan Mahasangh, an umbrella outfit representing various cow protection groups in the country and with close links to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
The Rashtriya Gaudhan Mahasangh claims to command a cadre of 10 crore gau rakshaks, on top of at least 850 full-time members.
Speaking at an event at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) on Saturday, Khurana also mounted a personal attack on Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, saying that she must be held directly responsible for the atrocious state of cows in the poll-bound western state.
“Rajasthan has the largest number of gaushalas in the country. The biggest gaushala in the country, home to 1.5 lakh cows, is also located in Rajasthan’s Jalore district. Despite all that, the state of cows remains deplorable,” said Khurana.
“Despite there being a cow ministry, the funding to the gaushalas have been on and off. The funding depends directly on the whims of the Chief Minister,” added Khurana.
Speaking at a packed house that included representatives from the government, civil society outfits, seers, RSS workers and retired government officials, Khurana minced no words either in castigating the Madhya Pradesh government for paying just lip service to cow welfare.
“They constituted a cow ministry in September, just ahead of the polls. But, what about the funding. We haven’t seen any change on the ground, despite them being in power for 15 years now,” complained Khurana.
“The situation of the cows has been more or less the same for three decades or so, since the meat export policy was formed,” he said.
Khurana remained ambiguous when asked about Congress’ election manifesto in Madhya Pradesh, which promises gaushala in every district panchayat and dedicated facilities for treating injured cows on the highways.
“We are an apolitical movement. Our primary concern is the welfare of cows,” he said.
Khurana, backed by other seers at the event, took potshots at the Centre for revoking licences issued to gaubhakts earlier this year.
“We also request the Animal Welfare Board of India to reissue the licenses that they had given to us,” he said.
SP Gupta, the chairman of the Animal Welfare Board, an advisory outfit under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said at the event that the government would reissue the licenses in coming days.
“We are concerned about the difficulties faced by gau bhakts in carrying out their duties. I can assure you that we will give new IDs to the gau bhakts so that they don’t face any difficulty from police and officials,” said Gupta.
Gupta was appointed as chairperson of the AWBI in July. One of the first decisions he took after taking charge was to cancel the licenses issued to gau-bhakts working in the realm of cow welfare. He had then cited the misuse of licenses by some gau-bhakts as a reason.