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Minority support drives Desam

Friday 22 August 2003

Hyderabad, Aug. 21: The stiff resistance put up by the Telugu Desam to the Bill banning cow slaughter in the country may not merely stem from the fact that it is a State subject, since a ban on cow slaughter already exists in the State.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, worried about the complete loss of support base from the minority communities, may well win some brownie points since opposition to the Bill could be seen as saying no to the politics of religion being played by the BJP.

At a news conference in New Delhi on Thursday, Naidu also admitted that the economic aspect was one of the factors, since the State earns huge foreign exchange from beef exports. Naidu, at his meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, is reported to have made it clear that his party was not for the anti-cow slaughter Bill, at least not in the manner in which the NDA government has been trying to push it through.

Naidu has reportedly asked Vajpayee to have consultations with all the NDA partners and allies before moving the Bill.

Among the several factors that are being touted by the Telugu Desam for its stand against the Bill is that the matter is a State subject, and any move by the Centre to ban cow slaughter nationwide would be interference in State affairs.

More importantly, the party is worried about the religious flavour the issue attracts. "Beef is consumed by many prople from different communities in our country, and any ban on this would have religious ramifications," points out a senior party leader, adding that dietary habits in a State like Kerala require beef.

Elaborating further on the party stand, he wondered why there should be a uniform policy on cow slaughter all over the country when it was clearly a State subject.

"All along, the Telugu Desam has been fighting for more powers to be delegated to the States from the Centre. From Day One, our aim has been to get more powers for the State, and it is based on this same logic that we have opposed the anti-cow slaughter Bill," he said.

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