Kamal Nath’s cowardly politics

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath addresses a press conference after assuming office, in Bhopal. PTI

The action of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh to invoke the National Security Act (NSA) for alleged violations of cow protection laws is not only a travesty of the law but an ideological capitulation to its rival, the BJP. The Kamal Nath government booked two men under the stringent law for alleged illegal transportation of cows and disruption of public peace last Friday. A few days earlier, it had slapped the NSA against three men accused of killing a cow in Khandwa district. The state government has thus sent out two bad and most objectionable signals with its actions. One is that it is willing to misuse the NSA on the most flippant grounds, and the other is that it is as overzealous about cow protection as its predecessor government in Madhya Pradesh was and the present BJP government of Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh is. The Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Yogi Adityanath governments have often slapped the NSA against those accused of slaughter or transportation of cows. 

The NSA is a draconian law which provides for detention of those who are held under it for up to one year without bail. To haul up people under this law for violation of cow protection laws is wrong and most unjustifiable. What is the security issue involved here, and is the cow to be equated with the nation? In the Khandwa incident, the government acted under pressure from Hindutva groups. The Congress government seems to be in competition with the BJP and vigilantes in the matter of cow protection. The party had promised to set up cow shelters in all panchayats in its election manifesto. The Kamal Nath government’s ‘spiritual affairs minister’ P C Sharma says its concern for the cow is genuine while the BJP government only faked it. The government has also offered financial help to temples that offer shelter to cows. The newly installed Congress government in Rajasthan has a cow minister and has announced many steps to show that it has greater love for the cow than the previous BJP government had. 

The BJP has commended both governments for diligently following its policies. These governments’ actions and policies are not born of any concern for the welfare of cows but are driven by a motive to beat the BJP at its cow politics. This is part of the soft Hindutva policy being pursued by Congress. This makes it no different from the BJP, but Congress cannot help it. The party’s central leadership has seen the matter as a state issue that does not warrant its intervention. Congress should realise that a clone of the BJP is not an alternative to it. 

 

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