So what’s your beef?

IF Kerala has a focal point for the Hindu faith it has to be Thrissur — home to the Vadukkunathan temple complex that hosts the annual Pooram; to other storied temples such as Thiruvambady, Paramekavu, Koodalmanikyam, Arattupuzha, Kodungalur, and Ponkunnam to name just the most obvious of dozens of pilgrim centres, and a way station for Guruvayur and for Sabarimala, epicentre of the women’s entry storm earlier this year and, in the minds of political pundits, the wedge the BJP will use to prise open the hitherto inhospitable state. With that background, read this news report:

The Thrissur district unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has launched a co-operative society to produce, process and market meat and fish. The venture – Thrissur, Fish and Meat Producing, Processing and Marketing Society – had received approval from the registrar of co-operative societies six months ago.

The bylaw of the society said it will rear and sell cattle and fish products. “We haven’t started processing or selling of meat,” BJP Thrissur district president A Nagesh, who has also been elected the president of the society, told “But I cannot say whether we will venture into the meat processing market or not.”

But then there is this: In the 2017 Assembly elections, a BJP candidate promised to set up quality abattoirs and ensure good quality beef if he was elected. Elsewhere, RSS and BJP functionaries formed a cooperative to sell beef. On his first day as a BJP minister, KJ Alphons said:

On the first day in his new office as tourism minister, bureaucrat-turned-politician Alphons Kannanthanam touched upon the controversial issue of beef, saying it would continue to be consumed in Kerala.

“The BJP does not mandate that beef cannot be eaten. We don’t dictate food habits in any place. It is for the people to decide,” he said.

The various affiliates of the BJP also said that Kerala should receive no help in the aftermath of the the 2018 floods; that the flood was a sign of god punishing Kerala because the state consumes beef; a ‘sadhvi’ called for the killing of those who kill cows and eat beef and, to crown the hypocrisy, Modi — who has the right wing leader’s habit of accusing others of exactly what he is guilty of — said this:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said cheating was in the blood of the Congress party.


“Is it the same Congress which praises the cow in Madhya Pradesh and mentions some schemes in its poll manifesto, but slaughters calves on the streets of Kerala and eats beef?” Modi asked the crowd.

It is a different matter that for all of Modi’s gaslighting, the voters of MP dumped the BJP in the Assembly elections. To go back to the point of the BJP’s hypocrisy when it comes to its signature issue: In 2017, then Goa CM Manohar Parikkar was assuring the state assembly that he will ensure there is no shortage of beef in the state; said that over 2000 kg of beef was being slaughtered in the state’s legal abattoir and that any shortfall would be made up by importing beef from Karnataka; and in January 2018, warned that anyone interfering with the import of beef would be punished. (Here’s a detailed, and more recent, story on the ongoing tug of war between gau rakshaks and the beef industry in the state).

Also in 2017 ahead of Assembly polls in the north-east, the BJP not only asserted that there would be no beef ban in Meghalaya if the party came to power, beef would actually be cheaper under the BJP rule. Last year the CM of Manipur was assuring his people that the BJP had never asked for a beef ban and never would, and that the BJP had no problem with the people eating beef. A senior BJP leader last year said there would be no beef ban in Tripura or any of the other states in the north-east.

That is the BJP. Led by the man who, during the 2014 campaign, repeatedly raised the bogey of a “pink revolution” if the Congress came to power. The man, and the party, that has stood by and, by their silence, given the nod to “cow vigilantes” — murderers, to call things as they are — to run riot across the Hindi heartland and, where necessary, to actively provide aid and comfort to the murderers; a party whose minister garlanded accused lynchers who were let out on bail and senior leaders condoled the death of a jailed lyncher, promised compensation to the family of the dead man, and stood by as, in violation of all norms, the coffin was draped with the national flag… And, in areas where they know their “gaumata” BS won’t work, a party that will, without the slightest twitch of hesitation, guarantee you the very beef they talk of banning.

I believe that people should have the right to eat what they want; that it is not the business of polity or the government to interfere in an individual’s private life. That said, I’d appreciate a party that, at the least, had the courage of its own convictions. The BJP — and this is true for the entirety of its existence — is a party of, and for, hypocrites who will do anything, say anything, be anything as long as it leads to power.

It’s Sunday. For reasons of work, I have to watch, and make notes on, the two IPL games scheduled today. So I’ll leave you with this post — and this topical, timely musical comment:

Yes, Prime Minister

The Prime Minister is unhappy, and he has good reason to be. No one responds to my ‘good morning’ messages, he cribbed at a meeting of party lawmakers the other day.

That’s fair. It is not about sycophancy, or the social media analog of kids jumping up and going ‘good morning Miss’ when the teacher walks into the room. It is about common courtesy, about basic good behavior. And decency, good behavior, these are important, yes, in any civilized society, in any culture?

Right. Meanwhile, in Parliament, Mr Arun Jaitley made an important intervention:

On Wednesday, making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, leader of the house and finance minister Arun Jaitley said: “The PM in his speeches did not question, nor did he mean to question the commitment to this nation of either former PM Manmohan Singh or former VP Hamid Ansari. Any such perception is erroneous. We hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India.”

Any such perception that Modi was attacking both his predecessor and a former vice president of India was “erroneous”, Jaitley said.

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WTF Just Happened: December 1

#1. After six straight lows, India’s quarterly GDP growth finally trended upwards to 6.3% in the quarter ending September 2017 — a significant uptick from the 5.7% the economy had registered in the previous quarter. The real silver lining is not so much the GDP number itself, but the fact that manufacturing growth accelerated as warehouses restocked after the twin disruptions of demonetization and GST implementation.

Arun Jaitley is hopeful that the impact of those two structural reforms is now “behind us and hopefully, we can look for an upward trajectory in the third and the fourth quarter.” A pragmatic, unexceptional statement from the FM, that contrasts with the chest-thumping of the BJP-leaning sections of the media, led by the usual suspect:

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The U-turn sarkar

May 25, 2014: The then Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan says that the first issue he will take up with the prime minister, if his party won the Lok Sabha polls, was the cause of granting full statehood to the capital city. The move, he said, would solve the problem of multiple authorities; he said the NDA had earlier tabled a relevant bill in Parliament but the successor UPA government had not followed up.

Harsh Vardhan’s predecessor Madan Lal Khurana had made a similar demand in 2003, coincidentally, again, just ahead of assembly elections. “The BJP leadership at the Centre says it is drafting a new Delhi Statehood Bill,” the article points out. “This is something it had done in 1998 as well, a few months before the assembly elections in November that year.”

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Odds and ends. Mostly odds.

The “objectives of demonetization” — an ongoing game of hunt-the-slipper being played with the economy — received its newest and shiniest entry courtesy IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who informs us that prostitution has declined as a result of the note-ban. It is reassuring when ministers pay such close attention to such niche businesses — it tells you that they are thoroughly on top of things.

The minister also displayed his capacity for empathy when he said that only those people who could not enhance their skill sets had lost their jobs in the wake of demonetization. With that one blanket statement, the minister brushed off the estimated 1.5 million people who lost their jobs just between January and April this year as a bunch of losers. If it was a reflection on his own ministry, which back in January this year was busy signing MoUs to upskill people, the low-profile minister modestly allowed that fact to pass unsaid.

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WTFJH: The October 13 edition

#1. Here is a news story:

On 12 October, Zulaikha Khatoon, the wife of the only eyewitness in the case of the lynching of Alimuddin Ansari, died in an alleged road accident barely a kilometer away from a Ramgarh district court. Zulaikha was on her way to fetch a photo identification card that would allow her husband, Jaleel Ansari, to appear before the court that day. He was ultimately unable to depose.

Alimuddin was lynched on 29 June. Jaleel was the first person to alert the residents of Manua village, where he and Alimuddin lived, of the murder. According to the Jharkhand police, Alimuddin died after being beaten by the members of the Gau Raksha Dal—a local cow-protection group—and the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). The members of the extremist Hindu groups had attacked Alimuddin in the middle of Bazar Tand, a market in the Ramgarh district of Jharkhand, on the suspicion that he was carrying beef in his tempo.

And thus witnesses in cases involving the RSS, the BJP and its feeder groups keep dying. All purely coincidental.

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