Friday, February 21, 2014


21 August 2003


From Jal Khambata

NEW DELHI: An embarassed Vajpayee Government on Thursday withdrew the controversial Bill for a national ban on cow slaughter after finding many ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners joining the Opposition in blocking with pandemonium its introduction in the Lok Sabha.

Among those giving notice to oppose the Bill at the introduction stage itself were Trinamul Congress leader Mamta Bannerjee as well as Congress member Satyarvat Chaturvedi.

The Bhartiya Janata Party was quick in putting the blame on the Congress for backing out from supporting the ban on cow slaughter, an issue that it would exploit in the upcoming Assembly elections as the demand for the ban had come first from a Congress chief minister -- Digvijay Singh of Madhya Pradesh. Its spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra, however, admitted that the party had not expected so much opposition to the move to protect cow.

Pandemonium forced the Speaker to adjourn the House for ten minutes and later Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced that "sensing the mood of the House (Bhavna dekhkar), we are not going to take up the Bill." Stating that it would not be introduced now, she said the Government wiould first call an all-party meeting and bring the Bill "only after a
consensus emerges."

The Opposition members as well as some of the members of the ruling benches, except those belonging to the Bhartiya Janata Party, created noisy scenes as soon as Agriculture Minister Rajnath Singh rose to introduce the Prevention of Cruelty to Cows Bill.

The BJP had apparently not taken the NDA allies into confidence about the Bill as seen from they joining the Opposition in the noisy protest.

Nothing could be heard about reasons for opposition to the Bill because of the pandemonium. While some like Muslim League's G M Banatwala were asserting the fundamental right of eating cow meat or whatever they like, most of the members were opposed to the Centre usurping the state governments' right to impose such a ban as animals, including cows, fall under the jurisdiction of the state governments under the Indian Constitution.

The Government was trying to bring the Bill on the basis of the Concurrent List of subjects under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution that gives powers to both the Centre and the State Governments. "Prevention of cruelty to animals" is listed at No 17 in the Concurrent List.

The Bill sought "to provide for effective measures for the prevention of cruelty to cows and matters incidental thereto."

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