A renewed push from the BJP government in Maharashtra and the Centre was instrumental in removing hurdles by the agriculture ministry in the way of a cattle slaughter ban getting presidential assent after languishing for almost two decades, sources told HT on Tuesday.
Beef went off the menu in the state after the President approved an amendment to a state law, which brought the possession, sale or purchase of bulls, bullocks and calves under a slaughter ban that only covered cows before.
The push by the Devendra Fadnavis government for the bill came as the Prime Minister’s Office was seeking the Union law ministry’s opinion on whether the Centre could circulate laws on cow slaughter enacted by some states, including Gujarat, as a model bill to other states.
“Thanks a lot Hon President Sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality now,” the Maharashtra CM had tweeted but was silent about his government’s and the NDA regime’s renewed push. Cow slaughter has been banned in the state since 1976.
Contrary to reports about the bill lying with the President for over 18 years, Pranab Mukherjee took just eight days to dispose of it, said sources.
“In 1996, the then Shiv Sena-BJP government had passed a cattle slaughter bill but when it reached the Centre for presidential approval, the Congress government — followed by the United Front regime — didn’t seem inclined to move further,” said a home ministry official. The Union agriculture ministry had asked the state government how it would deal with a spurt in the population of cattle if they were not slaughtered.
The ministry also wanted to know what provisions for arranging fodder had been made and the policy to deal with old animals.
When a BJP government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee came to power at the Centre in March 1998, the issues were yet to be sorted out.
Next year, the saffron party was voted out of power in Maharashtra. “For the next two to three years there was no reply from the state government and it informed the Centre later that they had formed a committee to look into the issue,” said the official.
When the Fadnavis government came to power, it asked the home ministry about the bill. The old hurdle by the agriculture ministry was ‘sorted out’ and the bill was sent for presidential assent, sources said. Pranab Mukherjee got the bill on February 16 and gave his assent on February 26.