A BJP candidate for the by-election to Kerala’s Muslim-dominated Malappuram parliamentary constituency has promised quality beef for the people if they elect him.
Sreeprakash’s poll pledge counterbalances a growing effort in BJP-ruled states to enforce a ban on eating beef and slaughter of cows, considered sacred in Hinduism. A day before his remarks, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh proposed the death sentence for cow killers.
“I will ensure quality beef and standard abattoirs in my constituency. My opponents are citing beef ban just to portray my party in bad light,” Sreeprakash said on Sunday.
Kerala is among a handful of states where there is no restriction on sale and consumption of beef.
The main talking points of the by-election in Malappuram -- where 65% of the population is Muslim and 5% are Christians -- are beef and triple talaq.
Sreeprakash held the Congress guilty of enforcing the cow slaughter ban when the party was in power, and putting the blame on the BJP to show his party in a bad light.
The BJP has been accused of launching an ill-judged crackdown on unauthorised slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh, after it came to power in the northern state last month. Butchers were griping that even licensed abattoirs are being targeted.
Sreeprakash said the clampdown was on illegal meat outlets, not on licensed ones.
“No doubt, if elected, I will ensure halal beef in the constituency. In Kerala, there is no ban on beef so that question (of ban) doesn’t arise here.”
The poor man’s protein — as the meat sold cheap is called — beef is almost a staple in Kerala. From crispy cutlets to ulathiyathu or meat fry, 50-odd beef recipes tickle the palettes of people in Kerala.
Besides Muslims and Christians, a sizeable number of Hindus eat beef, which constitutes about 40% of the total meat consumed in the state. An estimated one million cattle are brought from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka every year.
Beef undoubtedly is food for thought in the Malappuram by-election, necessitated by the death of the former Union minister E Ahamed of the Muslim League, who won the seat in the 2014 general elections with a big margin of 1,94,000 votes.
The Muslim League and the state’s ruling CPM are targeting the BJP for the beef ban, an emotive issue for the constituency’s meat lovers.
“In some parts of the country the government is preparing a menu for its citizens and days are not far it will also insist how we should eat,” Muslim League candidate PK Kunhalikutty, a former minister, said at a rally.
Malappuram is recording a stiff three-cornered contest between Kunahlikutty, CPM’s MB Faisal and Sreeprakash of the BJP. Sreeprakash polled 7.58% votes in 2014.