Centre’s ban on cattle trade for slaughter is unconstitutional: Mamata Banerjee
Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s comments add to a swirling controversy over beef consumption, especially after the Centre’s contentious notification last weekindia Updated: May 29, 2017 18:17 IST
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday trained her guns on the Centre for banning the sale of cattle for slaughter across the country’s livestock markets, insisting that the decision was unconstitutional.
“We won’t accept the Centre’s decision, it is unconstitutional and we will challenge it legally,” she said at a press conference at the state secretariat.
She minced no words, describing the ban as a deliberate attempt to encroach on the state government’s powers and was undemocratic and unethical.
“We are not bound to abide by the Centre’s new decision. This is a subject on the concurrent list. How can they bulldoze? Who are they to decide who will eat what and who will wear what?” Banerjee lashed out at the Centre.
She also said that she would work towards building a consensus on the issue among the opposition parties around the country.
“All secular parties are against this decision,” she said.
She also questioned the timing of the May 23 decision and wondered why it was announced just before the month of Ramzaan.
“I love plants. Plants have life. One can say we should not chop potato, parval and other vegetable. Paddy plants also grow up and we cut it to get rice. Even that should be banned,” said the Bengal chief minister.
“The modification that the Centre did to the rules clearly infringe upon the rights of the state on two counts. This announcement makes it evident that the Centre is making a mockery of the federal structure. Items in the concurrent list is an area where the opinion of the states are as important as that of the Centre,” she argued.
Quoting article 246 of the Constituion, Mamata Banerjee said the legislature of the state government has exclusive rights to make power to make laws in such matters (list II of schedule VIII).
Most states in India have weekly livestock markets and many states operate them near borders to attract traders from neighbouring states.
“It is ridiculous that the Centre wants to decide where the markets will be held,” she remarked.
But Mamata Banerjee is not the only opposition chief minister to criticise the Centre’s decision.
The Left government in Kerala has already rejected the Union government’s move describing it as “fascist”. Chief minister Pinyari Vijayan said on Sunday the people in his state do not need a lesson on food habits from New Delhi or Nagpur.
“The state government will give all facilities to people to have food of their choice. There is no need for Keralites to learn it from anybody in New Delhi or Nagpur (headquarters of RSS),” Vijayan said.
Last week Kerala’s agriculture minister VS Sunil Kumar said, “We will not allow the (central) government to enforce fascist policies of the RSS and other fringe outfits. Let it issue many such notifications, we will not follow them”.
Incidentally, Mamata Banerjee has been criticising the Centre’s decision to ban cow slaughter for a number of months.