Ever since Devendra Fadnavis led BJP took over the reigns of the Maharashtra Government last year in October, we have been seeing news reports on so-called bans imposed by them i.e. AIB ban, Madrassa ban etc and other hit-jobs like VIP culture of Fadnavis, Fadnavis skipping meeting in USA for sightseeing etc
So in continuation of this trend, we were told by media that Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) had imposed a Meat-Ban for 8 days during the Jain festival of Paryushan. (FYI Mira Bhayander boasts of a Jain population of 2.5 lakhs out of a total population of 8.5 lakhs). This was followed by a similar ban in neighbouring Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) (Shiv Sena ruled) which looks after the whole of Mumbai and in Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NCP-Congress ruled) where BJP has only 6 out of 111 seats.
As usual Media along with the “Adarsh Liberal” gang went into overdrive to portray that the newly elected Fascist BJP is imposing Vegetarianism on everyone and various debates on Prime-time followed discussing how “Idea of India” is in danger. There were a series of tweets by Bollywood celebs like Sonam Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Gul Panag, Arshad Warsi etc on how their CM is trying to be their dietician and they have to bear him for another 4 years. They completely ignored the fact that BMC is ruled by Shiv Sena and that the order was passed by BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and not BJP. Of course there was no discussion on #Meatban imposed by NCP in Navi Mumbai.
So were these Meat-Bans a new phenomena emerging from rise of Fascist forces in India? Think again. Fact is Meat-Ban during Paryushan is a trend followed since 1964 when BMC first imposed it for 2 days, asking abattoirs to shut shop (Sale in hotels was permitted). This was followed by a resolution in 1994 by Congress which re-iterated that the ban will continue for 2 days. In 2004 the then Congress-NCP Government passed a new resolution that the Meat-ban will continue for existing 2 days and additionally “appealed” for a Meat ban on 9 more days!
Even in 2014, in Mira-Road, NCP Mayor Catleen Pereira proposed a Meat-ban during paryushan but no one batted an eyelid. In 2008, even the Apex court of India upheld the judgement that Meat-ban imposed by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is valid.
So although the people behind the meat-bans were not always related to the BJP and never related to the current BJP Government in Maharashtra, a deliberate attempt was made to tarnish the present regime. It was a timely slap delivered by Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis to Rajdeep Sardesai where he clearly specified that “Not a single new order went from the government to any local body”.
It is also important to note that, as explained by the BMC commissioner, during the so called Meat-ban, only abattoirs which slaughter mutton & beef were shut down on and sale of fish, other sea food and chicken was not banned. So this “Meat-Ban” was in fact only a “beef & mutton” ban, unlike what was showcased in media.
In another round of propaganda, Media showed that other BJP ruled states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh had now joined the Meat Ban bandwagon. In Gujarat meat ban was first enforced in 1960 by CM Jivraj Mehta (Congress) as per Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act (1949). In Rajasthan under Gehlot’s rule, ban lasted for 5 days which was reduced now by Vasundhara Raje to 3 days. In Madhya Pradesh meat bans exist on 17 days during the whole year, and have been carried out by successive Governments, both BJP and Congress alike.
There are various instances in the past when even regional parties enforced Meat-Ban during Paryushan like Mayawati who in 2009, used an SC Order to enforce meat-ban in Uttar Pradesh for 9 days. MNS who is currently opposing Meat-ban also requested such a ban in 2013 during Ekadashi in Pune.
In sum total, this sudden cacophony over Meat ban is definitely politically motivated and has nothing to do with love for “freedom of choice”, as professed by Indian media or other “eminent citizens”. If they were so bothered about Government enforcing itself on the rights of people, such groups should have been screaming for so many years, not just when the persons in power are not to their liking. To put it in strictly non-vegetarian terms: ‘char aane ki murgi, baara aane ka masala’.
Dhaval Patel is a Project Management Consultant based out of Mumbai. He holds interest in Bollywood, Entertainment Industry, Politics and Public policy.