The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cow Bill to gore Cong

New Delhi, April 20: The Centre is working on a Bill to ban cow slaughter to put the Congress on the mat ahead of elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Chhattisgarh, scheduled for October-November.

A legislation will be introduced in Parliament before the budget session ends on May 9.

The Bill, sources said, will not talk directly about a ban but couch it in a veiled language, keeping in mind the sentiments of the BJP’s allies in the National Democratic Alliance.

Agriculture and animal husbandry minister Ajit Singh, along with the law ministry, is working on the Bill.

The Bill can be passed into a law only through an amendment to the Constitution, which would require a two-thirds majority. So the proposed Bill cannot be passed without Congress support.

Sources said the idea is not to enact the law, but to corner the Congress and score a political point over Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh who had dared the Prime Minister to ban cow slaughter.

The BJP feels that the legislation, even if aborted, will go down well with the party’s hardline supporters.

Several Opposition leaders —including Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Shivraj Patil — had objected to such a proposal earlier, saying Parliament had no legislative competence to enact a law on cow slaughter.

“The issue fell neither under the Union nor Concurrent Lists and, therefore, the House did not have the legislative competence,” Patil had said.

Though some NDA allies are strongly opposed to the ban, the Centre had managed to get a resolution adopted by the Lok Sabha on April 10 — much to the shock of the Opposition.

The resolution, passed by a voice vote, said: “This House is of the opinion that the government should bring forward a suitable legislation to ban slaughter of cow and its progeny throughout the country.”

The private member’s resolution, moved by BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh Prahlad Singh Patel, had the full support of the BJP and the Centre.

The BJP had directed all its members to be present in the House to outnumber the Opposition. An earlier attempt made on March 11 was foiled by the Opposition, which had forced the chair to adjourn the House.

Ajit Singh had recently said the Centre would unveil a livestock policy to enhance resources for the neglected sector and enable it to withstand challenges under the WTO regime.

“Budgetary allocation to the sector has further declined to 0.62 per cent of the total budgetary resources for the Tenth Plan from 1.1 per cent during the Ninth Plan,” he had said.

The proposed livestock policy, whose draft has been circulated to states, will provide a growth roadmap and encourage capital formation and resource mobilisation.

India has 15 per cent of the world’s cattle, 57 per cent of buffaloes, 51 million sheep and 115 million goats.

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