Thiruvananthapuram: Ruling LDF and opposition UDF in Kerala joined hands in the assembly today to resist the Centre’s ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in the animal market and termed it as “fascist” move.
During the one-day session, called exclusively to discuss the cattle ban notification, members of ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and Congress-headed UDF opposition-held that it was not only an “intrusion” into state’s rights, but also an “infringement” on the rights of people on the choice of their food habits.
The House also passed a resolution asking the Centre to withdraw the notification, which saw the lone BJP MLA, O Rajagopal, dissenting. Members from both sides also attacked the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and termed the ban as a “fascist” move.
Attack on CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury at A K G Centre in New Delhi yesterday also had its echo in the assembly here with the party members alleging that Sangh Parivar was trying to “silence” political rivals through “muscle power”.
The members of both the Fronts said the ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in the animal market was not only communal but also essentially anti-working class and anti-farmer. It thus has to be withdrawn, they said.
They also alleged that the move was an attempt at corporatisation of the meat-trading sector, which was now an additional source of income for small and medium farmers.
Rajagopal said the coming together of LDF and UDF in the assembly was a sign of a “grand alliance” forming at the national level to take on BJP. He said the House has been “misused” for political purposes as the Centre has already made it clear that it was ready to make changes in the notification after getting suggestions from states.
Moving the resolution Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan slammed the Centre, saying the ban was to implement the political agenda of Sangh Parivar.
“The NDA government, that has failed to fulfil any of its promises, was raking up issues such as cattle slaughter to divide the people through communal polarisation for political gains,” he said.
Vijayan also brought to the notice of the assembly the serious ‘adverse’ consequences the ban would have on various sectors including agriculture, dairy, leather industry and meat export trade.
“The notification is impractical in Kerala where 95 percent of the population is non-vegetarian. It is clearly an intrusion into the citizens choice of food,” he said.
On the impact on state’s meat trade, Vijayan said every year 2.5 lakh tonnes of meat worth Rs 6,552 crore was sold in Kerala annually. Vijayan also mentioned about the farmers unrest in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and said the community was already in crisis and the new decision would further add to their woes.
The Chief Minister said the state government would implead in the connected case pending in the Supreme Court. Describing the notification as another “surgical strike” by the Modi government “like the note ban”, opposition leader in assembly Ramesh Chennithala said this was “a sign of arrival of fascism” in the country.
“Modi has transformed himself into ‘abhinava Hitler’ (neo Hitler),” he alleged.
Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan said there seems to be an “indirect interest” behind the notification. CPI(M) veteran and former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, KC-M leader K M Mani were among those who spoke on the occasion.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) notified the stringent Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 on May 25, banning the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter.
Kerala government was the first to protest against the Centre’s notification. It has also decided to convene a meeting of all Chief Ministers to discuss the issue. Vijayan has also written to his counterparts in other states asking them to “stand together” and “oppose” the ban and urged the Prime Minister to withdraw the new regulations. The Chief Minister has also written to Modi opposing the ban and urging him to withdraw the new regulations.
Beef fests were held in various parts of the state last month to protest against the ban with some youth Congress activists in Kannur publicly slaughtering a calf to register their protest.