A proposed beef party by some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Meghalaya to mark the third anniversary of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre has sparked a controversy with one office bearer quitting the saffron outfit and another likely to be asked to resign.
“I quit the party as the BJP is trying to impose their ideology on us. What’s wrong if we planned to celebrate the third anniversary in our own traditional way?” Bernard N Marak, former West Garo Hills district president of the BJP, questioned.
The leader hit the headlines a few days back after he stated that the saffron party would bring down prices of beef in Meghalaya if it comes to power after next year’s assembly polls.
Bernard told the Hindustan Times that the party was to be held in the second week of June “in a bid to clear doubts of the local people that BJP was trying to impose a ban on consumption of beef”.
Meghalaya has a dominant Christian population and consumption of beef is common among the Khasis, Garos and Jaintias – the three major tribes of the northeastern state.
“The party was growing rapidly in Garo Hills. But now many people are worried and there could be more resignations,” Bernard, who plans to contest as an Independent candidate from Tura (South) in 2018, said.
The party’s North Garo Hills district president Bachu C Marak also posted about holding a beef party with ‘bitchi’—the local term for rice beer—on Facebook on Wednesday.
BJP’s Meghalaya in-charge Nalin Kohli, who was in Shillong, told HT that the state unit will take steps to remove Bachu or will welcome his resignation.
“The BJP as a disciplined party will not tolerate any members who, for their personal political gains, digress from Modiji’s agenda of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ (With Everyone, For Everyone’s Development),” Kohli said.
There are 26 assembly seats in Garo Hills and some party leaders feel the Centre’s decision to ban the sale of cattle at animal markets for slaughter could affect the party’s prospects in the next assembly polls.
In a notification announced last week, the government said cows and buffaloes cannot be sold for slaughter at animal markets across India, allowing only farmland owners to trade at animal markets.
The notification, which banned the sale of cows, bulls, bullocks, buffaloes, steers, heifers, calves, and camels, has triggered a political storm in India.
Kohli, however, feels Bernard and Bachu used the beef row to find a convenient excuse to “play the martyr card”.
“None of this will make us digress from the single-minded goal of ousting the corrupt Congress government of Mukul Sangma. More credible leaders and personalities are getting drawn to the BJP on a regular basis,” he said.
On Wednesday, former legislator Manas Chaudhuri and leader of Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) Sounder Strong Cajee joined the BJP in Shillong in Kohli’s presence.