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BJP makes abattoir amends

Ahmedabad, Sept. 16: An embarrassed BJP, in a bid to woo Gujarat’s Jain community, today declared it had always supported Gandhinagar-based Jainacharya Chandra Shekhar Suriji’s mission after the Jainacharya called off his agitation against opening new slaughterhouses.

Gujarat’s Jain community was up in arms against the BJP after learning about the Centre’s plans to open 65,000 slaughterhouses across the country during the 10th five-year plan. The recommendation was made by Irfan Allana, chairman of a panel on the meat sector, which submitted its report in January.

Leading an agitation against the proposed move, the Jainacharya had threatened to immolate himself if the Planning Commission accepted Allana’s report.

To the embarrassment of state BJP leadership, Gujarat Congress president Shankersinh Vaghela had been relentlessly attacking the BJP as a “party of butchers” that asked for votes in the name of cow protection but had no love for cows.

The Jain community was not pacified even after chief minister Narendra Modi clarified his government had not given permission to open new abattoirs.

However, the party was relieved after the Jainacharya declared at a press conference today that his agitation had compelled the Planning Commission against accepting Allana’s recommendations regarding new slaughterhouses.

Union minister of state for defence production and supplies Harin Pathak, who has been supporting the agitation, circulated the letter written by the Planning Commission’s deputy chairman stating that the commission had not accepted the recommendations of Sub-Group 11, pertaining to slaughterhouses.

Pathak told reporters that the BJP would have been in a soup if the commission had not rejected the recommendations, which hurt the sentiments of animal-lovers, in general, and the Jain community in particular.

The BJP today persuaded the Jainacharya to call off his agitation at a press conference where National Commission on Cattle chairman and BJP MP Guman Mal Lodha was also present to castigate Allana for the recommendation.

“Some people had conspired to convert this country into a meat bazaar but thanks to the deputy Prime Minister, L K Advani, who intervened in the matter after the Jain community strongly reacted, the Planning Commission has rejected the recommendation,” Lodha said.

Initially, the BJP was ambivalent on the issue. But it took note after the VHP told the party to ensure that new slaughterhouses were not opened. Eventually, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and his deputy had to intervene and save the party from an embarrassing situation.

The proposal will not be incorporated in the draft of the 10th five-year plan, to be released on October 6, Pathak added.

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