After failing to push for an extended meat ban in Mumbai during the Jain fasting period of Paryushan, the BJP on Friday sought to distance itself from the contentious issue by saying that it was a BMC issue and claiming the Maharashtra government had nothing to do with it.
After days of bluster, the party on Friday refused to even spell out its new stance on the meat ban following its reduction to two days. “Since it does not concern the BJP, we do not wish to comment on the matter,” said Madhav Bhandari, spokesperson, Maharashtra BJP.
He added, “These civic bodies are autonomous, and we as the state government do not interfere with their functioning. The issue is being politicised just to defame the state government and ignite enmity between various communities. This ban has been in place from 1964 and it is only in 2015, when we are in power, that the criticism has started.”
This was in stark contrast to the party’s stance earlier in the week; state housing minister Prakash Mehta had said on September 9: “There must be an eight-day ban on meat during Paryushan. We must respect the sentiments of the Jain community and observe this ban.”
The party’s attempts to enforce an eight-day or a four-day ban on the sale of meat during Paryushan failed after both the Shiv Sena and the Manarashtra Navnirman Sena came out against it, leaving the BJP isolated.
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The meat ban, which has been observed for two days during Paryushan in recent years, was thrust into controversy this year after the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation banned the sale of meat and ordered the closure of abattoirs for eight consecutive days – September 11 to 18. Soon after, the BMC issued a four-day ban in Mumbai. This was brought back down to two days on Thursday after the Shiv Sena and MNS clashed with the BJP, with even the Congress and NCP joining the chorus.