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MP likely to declare cow as state animal

DH News Service BHOPAL

Saturday 2 August 2003

Article paru dans le Deccan Herald, ?dition du 2 ao?t 2003.

Unfazed by the criticism of the Secular brigade, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Digvijay Singh, is all set to take yet another step towards implementing his "soft Hindutva" agenda.

At its next meeting, the state cabinet is likely to give its nod to a proposal for declaring cow as the state animal of Madhya Pradesh. The bovine will replace Barasingha (horned deer).

Mr Digvijay Singh has already made public his reverence for the cow and has admitted from public platforms that he drinks the urine of the animal for its therapeutic properties. MP has imposed a total ban on the slaughter of cows. A "Gau Sewa Ayog" (cow welfare commission ) has been constituted. With liberal grants from the government, the commission is building shelters for unproductive cows all over the state.

And in making this move, Mr Singh has tried to kill two birds with one stone. The decision has, ostensibly, been taken at the behest of a hitherto unknown organisation, headed by Swami Lodhi, the BJP MLA brother of the party’s chief ministerial candidate Ms Uma Bharati. There is no love lost between Ms Bharati and her brother and but for fear of attracting the penal provisions of the anti-defection law, Mr Lodhi would have joined the Congress long ago.

Activists of Mr Lodhi’s organisation, called "Manav Jagriti Sangathan", had launched an indefinite fast at Bhopal demanding that cow be declared the state animal. The government has announced that it was conceding the demand. The state animal husbandry minister said that cow will be accorded the status of the state animal as soon as the cabinet clears the proposal.

Mr Singh’s "I-love-the-cow-more-than-you-do" campaign started about six months ago, when the BJP kicked up a row over alleged cow slaughter at Ganj Basoda, a small town about hundred km from here. After a Muslim youth was caught while allegedly slaughtering a cow, rioting broke out in the town. Shops and business establishments of Muslims were targeted by unruly mobs.

Thereafter, the BJP raised its Hindutva pitch, describing Mr Singh as "anti-Hindu". The chief minister countered the propaganda by what has come to be described as "soft-Hindutva".

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