The Goa unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has supported the move to legalise bullfights in the state, moving far from its professed commitment to protect the "gau mata" (mother cow).
The "gau sanvardhan" (cow protection) campaign, which was a top feature in most BJP roadshows, has now given way to a radically different passion also related to bovines - dhirio or the local version of bullfighting in which two bulls fight each other.
When Congress legislator from Curtorim Reginaldo Lourenco introduced the bill legalising bullfighting in the last legislative assembly session, the BJP not only supported the move, opposition leader Manohar Parrikar even pitched in with a suggestion or two of his own.
During the discussions held before passing the bill that amended relevant sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) act to make dhirio legal, Parrikar advocated safeguards to ensure prompt medical care for the warring, head-butting bulls slugging it out in a sport that is backed by rural betting syndicates.
At a press conference here Monday, BJP spokesperson Govind Parvatkar was at a loss to explain the dichotomy of promoting concepts like "gau sanvardhan" on one hand and advocating bullfighting on the other.
However, in a subsequent telephonic conversation, Parvatkar said that the bill was passed in a hurry and there was not enough time for discussions.
"The bill was a product of a game of one-upmanship between Lourenco and his arch rival, then MP Francisco Sardinha, who had also a private member's bill seeking legalisation of bull fighting in the Lok Sabha," Parvatkar told IANS.
"We definitely oppose bullfighting, if there was time we would have opposed the bill, we would have definitely argued against it," he said, adding that irrespective of popular opinion, the BJP continued to be firm to its commitment of cattle protection.
In Goa, a typical bullfight involves two specially reared bulls, head-butting each other until one scampers away from the ring, which is lined by thousands of baying spectators, several of whom gamble on the outcome. Large sums of money change hands.