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Eating habits of people cannot be regulated through orders: Pema Khandu

india Updated: Jul 05, 2017 13:15 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times
Pema Khandu,Beef Ban,Cattle slaughter

At 37, Pema Khandu is country’s youngest chief minister.(PTI Photo)

At 37, Pema Khandu is country’s youngest chief minister. The former Congressman crossed over to the BJP last July and took over as the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh. Son of veteran Congressman Dorjee Khandu, who died in a helicopter crash in 2011 while serving as the chief minister, told Hindustan Times that there was a marked difference between how the Congress and BJP leaderships function. Khandu is unnerved with the current controversy about beef and says eating habits cannot be regulated through legislations. Excerpts from his interview with Kumar Uttam:

The BJP got its first government in Arunachal Pradesh after you crossed over with your supporters. What prompted you to leave the Congress?

I joined politics in 2011 and kept raising within the Congress many issues that I thought were important. There was no mechanism in the Congress to address them. It’s not that I decided to leave abruptly. It got disheartened with the way Congress leadership treated its leaders. It was more of a high command culture where orders came from above and leaders had to execute them.

Is the BJP different? Doesn’t Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah form the high command in BJP?

BJP is a more systematic and a vibrant party. I never saw in Congress the kind of activities that BJP does. There is one or the other party function going on every moment. Too much focus is being given on training of workers. Congress leadership, it seems, did not realise the need to work on organisational front. Everyone was happy being in Delhi. You hardly got a chance to speak to Congress leaders and tell them about your issues... The Congress has failed to reinvent itself and more leaders will leave it in coming days.

How do you see Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi as leaders of their parties?

(Laughs) Are you asking if there is a match? No way. Rahul Gandhi clearly has no idea how to run the organisation and what needs to be done to deal with the challenges before. Shah is focused. The BJP president, every time I meet him, will seek feedback and give suggestions. Even the prime minister has given a suggestion on how there should be a synergy between the old BJP leaders and those, like us, who have come from the Congress... With Rahul, it would not have been possible.

But several BJP leaders from Meghalaya have resigned over beef controversy. Isn’t this issue holding BJP’s march in the northeast?

This is an issue that is being blown out of proportion. Beef is not the only an issue about which people of northeast are concerned. The current controversy relates to the Centre’s order on banning the sale of animals for slaughter. It’s not about beef. Eating habits of people cannot be regulated through orders and legislations. Any government can pass any order, but people will eat what they want to eat.

Did the Centre consult you before issuing the order on banning the sale of animals?


Do you plan to take up the issue with the Centre?

I believe that the government itself is amending that order. I don’t not want to waste my time on these issues. I have more serious jobs at hand. Eating habit of people should best be left to them.

First Published: Jun 13, 2017 23:19 IST