Bajrang Dal’s ‘reminder’ about cow protection law, a sign for BJP govt to stay on course
Besides the cow protection law, the Bajrang Dal’s reminders to the Bharatiya Janata Party about the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya, the call for scrapping Article 370 in J-K are messages to the govt to consolidate majority vote.india Updated: Oct 31, 2017 18:54 IST
At the end of its three-day national convention in Bhopal on Sunday, Bajrang Dal blamed the government for failing to bring in a central law to protect cows and vilifying Hindutva groups who revere the bovine.
The Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and a part of the extended Sangh Parivar, passed three resolutions, which included one on ‘commitment to cow protection’.
These ‘reminders’ from the Bajrang Dal about a cow protection law, the need to hasten the construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya, the call for scrapping Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the reiteration of all Indians being Hindus, are messages to the government to stay the course and consolidate the majority vote.
This comes even as the issue of cow protection has resurfaced in Gujarat, where the memory of the flogging of seven Dalits by alleged “gau rakshaks” (cow vigilantes) in Una for skinning a dead cow is alive. The incident led to a coalition of Dalit protests, which continues to thwart the Bharatiya Janata Party’s outreach to the community and threatens its electoral performance.
While the BJP governments in Gujarat and at the Centre would appear keen to side-step the contentious issue, outfits such as the Bajrang Dal seem unwilling to tone down their rhetoric.
“If the gau rakshaks have taken to the streets, it is the because of the government’s failure. There is no central law; every year gau rakshaks and even security forces are attacked by cow smugglers. There may have been 16 -17 incidents of attacks by gau rakshaks, but we have a list of over 140 attacks on them,” said the international joint general secretary of the VHP, Surendra Jain.
The issue of cow protection is also not just a demand for a law that bans all bovine slaughter; it is an indication of simmering discontent and a power tussle within the Sangh Parivar.
The Bajrang Dal and other outfits, which claim credit for helping the BJP win the 2014 Lok Sabha election, are making themselves heard and are not willing to remain on the sidelines. They want a bigger say in the decision-making process and do not want the BJP to lose focus on the issues they support.
It’s been more than a year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at the cow vigilantes for attacking people suspected of either consuming or transporting cow meat. Amid a crescendo of protests against such killings, the Prime Minister, without masking his disapproval, dubbed the vigilantes as “criminals”.
The statement that set off a furore, uncovering the fractures within the Parivar over issues as volatile as beef ban continues to chafe the Hindutva groups. Led by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological fount, they parsed the PM’s statement and promptly came up with a distinction between their ‘pious cow protectors’ and ‘criminals’.
“It is unfair to link the cow protectors or entire activity of cow protection with violent incidences or communal feelings without knowing the facts” or by neglecting the facts, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said in his annual Dussehra speech in September.
While both the BJP and RSS affiliates seem to agree that cow protection cannot be vigilantism, the points of divergence are hard to miss.
The RSS affiliates want a complete ban on slaughter and export of bovine meat; consequently, the BJP has to contend with the Sangh’s demand on the one hand and protecting citizens’ rights on the other hand.
By bringing up the demand for cow protection and investigating the so-called “love jihad”, groups such as the VHP and Bajrang Dal are catering to the Hindu vote bank that they assert will be the prime force to bring the BJP back to power in 2019.