Gau raksha bites BJP back

Gau raksha bites BJP back

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his wife Sadhna Singh offer food to a cow during 'Govardhan Puja' at his residence in Bhopal on November 08, 2018. PTI

The BJP's thrust to protect cows appears to have backfired in the Gwalior-Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh as farmers complain about abandoned cattle destroying their fields.

"There are at least 200 abandoned bovines that roam the streets in our village. We have to spend sleepless nights guarding our fields from stray cattle," said Vijay Pal Singh, 45, a farmer in the Barra Kalan village in Bhind Assembly segment.

Kalyan Singh Narwariya, another farmer from the same village, has the bajra crop ready for harvest and dreads the abandoned cattle that are turning to fields for fodders in the absence of cow shelters.

"Cows have become a problem and the government has added to it by elevating the cow to the status of a 'gau mata'," Ashok Yadav, a farmer from Akoda village, said.

Farmers tend to abandon cows as they age and cease to produce milk, as well as aging bullocks.

"Earlier, at least we could sell the bullocks, but the new law prevents that," said Yadav.

Interestingly, the three farmers mentioned above had voted for the BJP in previous elections, but were now pitching for change.

"We revere the cow, but which farmer will be able to control his anger if the cow destroys the standing crop in his fields?" said Narwariya.

Protecting the cow has emerged as an election issue with both the BJP and Congress making promises in their poll campaigns to open cow sheds.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan went a step further and declared that he would set up a separate cow ministry to address issues related to cattle.

Not to be left behind, the Congress, too, has announced that it would set up gaushalas in every district of the state to address the problem of stray cattle.

Last year, the Chouhan government opened a first-of-its-kind sanctuary for cows, the Kamdhenu Gau Abhayaranya, spread across 472 acres in the Salaria village in Agar district.

"Farmers get worried because their crop is destroyed. Congress has promised a solution in its manifesto by setting up cow sheds. This could be a solution, but it has never been tried before," A P S Chauhan, professor of Political Science, Jiwaji University, told DH.

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