Kerala's bitter political rivals--the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF closed ranks in the state assembly adopting a resolution asking the Centre to withdraw the cattle slaughter ban, calling it a 'fascist' move.
The Assembly specially met for a one-day session on Thursday to discuss the Centre's controversial cattle ban notification that has come under attack in Kerala and several other states. The members of the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front(LDF) and the opposition Congress-headed United Democratic Front(UDF) condemned the ban as not only an "intrusion" into the rights of states but also an "infringement" on the rights of people on the choice of their food habits. The lone BJP MLA O Rajagopal opposed the resolution.
Members of both the Fronts said the ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets was not only communal, but also essentially anti-working class and anti-farmer. It thus has to be withdrawn, they said. The members 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.
Moving the resolution, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan slammed the Centre, saying the ban was to implement the political agenda of the 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 per cent of the population is non-vegetarian. It is clearly an intrusion into the citizens' choice of food," he said.
As the notification came under attack in the Assembly, 'beef fry' was in demand at the assembly canteen with many MLAs partaking this dish. Beef fry was served at the two units of the Indian Coffee House eatery on the assembly premises and in the staff canteen, assembly sources said.
On the impact on state's meat trade, Vijayan told the Assembly that 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 rules 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.