The Information and Broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday declared that he was a ‘pukka’ non-vegetarian but only ate food permitted by the Indian Constitution. Food is a personal choice, he added, “but we should avoid eating what is restricted in the Constitution”.
“Aapko jo khana hain voh khao...par jo samvidhan main prohibited hain usko mat khao (One can eat his food of choice, but avoid eating that food which is prohibited as per our Constitution),” he said.
The reaction to the union minister’s curious statement was mixed. While some people raged at the minister’s ignorance of the Constitution, others joked that he may have discovered a ‘Food Schedule’ in the Constitution. While there was a self-deprecating tweet lamenting the fact that there is no mention of ‘fish’ in the Indian Constitution.
Mr Naidu was responding to a question regarding a BJP nominee for the coming by-polls in Malappuram in Kerala. The BJP nominee has reportedly promised supply of good beef from clean slaughter houses in his constituency, if elected.
“What is prohibited as per Constitution in states...follow that. What is there as per law... follow it. I am a ‘pakka’ (staunch) non-vegetarian and will continue to be so, and there is no restriction. I am the direct example (sic),” the BJP leader said. He did not, however, clarify whether he stopped at chicken and mutton or whether his preference extended to beef and pork as well.
Venkaiah Naidu’s statement has come at a time when the BJP-ruled states are pushing for stricter laws against cow slaughter. In Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government is cracking the whip on illegal abattoirs. Beef, however, is available in BJP-ruled Goa.
BJP leaders have been claiming that our Constitution approves of ban on cow slaughter. In the Directive Principles, Article 48 with the title of Organisation of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry mentions that the government should "take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle". Milch and draught cattle are buffalos, mithun and yak, whose meat is eaten in India. The context of the Article has more to do with economic reasons, and has no reference to religion for this prohibition. It actually aims at improving and preserving the breeds. However, Directive Principles are not enforceable unless they are supporting a Fundamental Right. That shows how BJP leaders have been misquoting the Constitution regarding cow slaughter.
With PTI inputs.