The row over beef eating and cattle trade kept the political cauldron astir on Thursday despite Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's attempt to calm frayed tempers by insisting the new central notification will not interfere with state laws on slaughtering animals.
Following several days of protests, particularly in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Jaitley told a press conference in New Delhi that the ban imposed by the Centre on sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter had nothing to do with state legislations.
The animal markets are meant for farmers and not for traders, he said, adding that 'this is the only effect of the notification'.
"Every state has its own legislation or no legislation (with regard to slaughter of cattle). You have provision in the Constitution Article 48 (Directive Principles) which says that certain category of animals have to be protected," Jaitley said.
Prohibition of cow slaughter mentioned in Article 48 of the Constitution is not an enforceable article, but a Directive Principle of State Policy.
West Bengal's feisty Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been at the forefront of the opposition's attack on the ban, added a new twist to the row, claiming the Centre was planning to omit buffalo from the ambit of its notification to favour 'certain people close to the Bharatiya Janata Party' involved in trade of its meat.
"Some people close to the BJP are involved in the buffalo meat trade and that is why, they (Centre) are planning to allow the slaughter of buffaloes," she told a public meeting in Tarakeshwar in West Bengal.
Assailing vigilantism in the name of cow protection, she said, "The BJP has got only 29 per cent of the votes, but they are trying to bulldoze the entire people. Who are they to decide what one will eat? Who are they to decide what one will wear? It is a matter of personal choice."
Notwithstanding Jaitley's attempt to pacify those angry at the ban, a top leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP's ideological mentor, denounced 'beef parties' being organised to protest the Modi government's measure as 'against humanity', and suggested that they 'should change their ways'.
"Those who are doing this (hosting beef parties) are just a few in the population of 121 crore. They do not represent the opinion of the nation. Their act is against humanity and they should change their ways," veteran RSS leader Indresh Kumar told a press conference at Jaipur.
"Cow milk is healthier than beef. Milk is medicine while beef makes you prone to diseases. People should understand this and not eat beef," Kumar said.
There also was a bit of political churning in Meghalaya where a senior BJP leader, who had announced a beef party in his hometown to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi's three years in office, resigned from the party.
BJP district president of Garo Hills Bernard Rimpu Marak, who had joined the party last year, was understood to have been asked to put in his papers. He, however, claimed his resignation was to protest the BJP's 'stand on beef'.
"In the interest of the Garo people, I have put in my papers today as a mark of protest against the party’s stand on beef," Marak said.
"I have resigned because I am a Christian and a Garo first. Steps taken by the party, especially in the Garo Hills, are not in the interest of the people," he said.
Marak had in a Facebook post on Wednesday said the BJP in Garo Hills will organise a 'bitchy-beef party' to celebrate three years of Modi government. Bitchy is a local alcoholic brew made from rice which is consumed during festivals.
Reacting to Marak's post, BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli had told reporters that the party will either sack him or ask him to tender his resignation.
The Congress party also held a 'beef protest rally' in the Garo hills which was led by Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Zenith Sangma.
The Congress leaders alleged the ban was an attempt to target minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, and said it would fuel communal tensions among the majority and the minority communities residing peacefully in Garo Hills.
Over 3,000 people attended the protest rally at Congress Bhavan and chanted anti-Modi slogans, saying at no cost the Centre will be able to impose ban and restriction on cattle trade in the Garo hills.
Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in Hyderabad that some people were 'provoking' others to hold beef parties and slaughter cows.
"We feel some people are provoking others to hold beef parties and engage in cow slaughter... definitely it is a criminal act and it is also a conspiracy to destroy peace and harmony of the country," he told a press conference on being asked to comment on some Youth Congress activists slaughtering a calf in public in Kerala.
"Several states have prohibited cow slaughter but some states have not banned it. It is a sentimental issue and also linked to faith of the people," Naqvi said.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India has decided to stage week-long protests in different parts of the country to seek rollback of the Centre's 'unwise' notification.
The protests will be staged between June 3 and June 10, party general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy said in a statement in New Delhi.