Popular buffalo meat dishes were back on the Kerala House menu and sold out in 45 minutes, polished off by an unusually large Wednesday lunch-time crowd that was drawn to the state guesthouse canteen at the centre of a beef row.
The canteen, open to the public, temporarily discontinued “buff” or buffalo meat amid a political row after Monday’s alleged police raid on the guesthouse over allegations of beef being served there.
The “sold out” tag quietly came up on the menu board around 1:30pm after the eatery, Samridhi, opened for lunch and started serving buffalo meat fry and curry at 12:45pm. “Our prepared stock was enough to serve 150 people during lunch hours,” a member of the kitchen staff said.
He informed that anywhere between 60 and 70 plates of buffalo meat are sold every day at Rs 50 each.
An English menu board placed at the counter announced “Meat Fry” and “Meat Curry” with “Buffalo” mentioned in brackets on Wednesday. The message was to clear the beef controversy -- that cow meat, which is banned in Delhi, is not sold there.
It also answers the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s question on why the canteen had “beef fry” scribbled in Malayalam on the menu, when the rest of the items were written in English.
“Strong action should be taken against people serving beef in Kerala House,” VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain demanded on Tuesday.
A day later, the VHP changed its tone and said Sangh Parivar organisations were not against making beef a part of the menu in Kerala government guesthouses. The Hindu Sena is not part of the Sangh Parivar, the VHP’s Kerala unit president SJR Kumar said in Kochi.
He accused fringe right-wing outfits such as the Hindu Sena and Ram Sene of tarnishing the Narendra Modi government’s image by trying to foist their dictum on various issues, including people’s food habits.
Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta, on whose complaint a posse of Delhi Police personnel entered Kerala House on Monday evening, was detained and questioned for filing a false complaint that beef was being served there.
Although police justified their action as “preventive measure”, Gupta’s detention follows a political slugfest with Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy of the Congress leading the charge against the BJP-led NDA government for the beef row — seen as another case of mounting irrationality and intolerance in the country.
Chandy found immediate support from his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Assam’s Tarun Gogoi, as well as many Left leaders, who are otherwise opposed to the Congress on many counts.
“Buffalo meat, which is not banned, will be served from today itself at Kerala House no matter who opposes it,” Chandy said in Thiruvananthapuram.
His government decided to take legal action against Delhi Police, that report to the Union home ministry, if they don’t accept the raid as a mistake.
“The raid conducted without the permission of state officials at the state-run official guesthouse crossed all limits of propriety, violated law and also affected Centre-state relations,” Chandy said.
With its image getting dented by rising incidents of intolerance, such as the lynching of a Muslim man on the suspicion of cow slaughter in Dadri, the NDA government said a “misinformation campaign” is on to blame it for incidents outside its purview.
“Some are trying to mislead and some are misled,” Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, arguing that such incidents happened earlier too and the government has condemned them.
(Inputs from Thiruvananthapuram)