Kerala's bitter political rivals -- the ruling Left Democratic Front and the United Democratic Front -- on Thursday closed ranks in the state assembly to oppose the cattle slaughter ban, calling it a 'fascist' move that also saw the House adopt a resolution asking the Centre to withdraw its notification.
During the one-day session, convened exclusively to discuss the controversial cattle ban notification, members of the ruling Communist Party of India Marxist-led Left Democratic Front and the opposition Congress-headed United Democratic Front condemned it as not only an "intrusion" into the rights of states but also an "infringement" on the rights of people on the choice of their food habits.
The lone Bharatiya Janata Party MLA O Rajagopal opposed the resolution.
Members of both the fronts said the ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets was not only communal, but also essentially anti-working class and anti-farmer.
It thus has to be withdrawn, they said.
The members also alleged that the move was an attempt at corporatisation of the meat-trading sector, which was now an additional source of income for small and medium farmers.
Moving the resolution, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan slammed the Centre, saying the ban was to implement the political agenda of the Sangh Parivar.
"The NDA government, that has failed to fulfil any of its promises, was raking up issues such as cattle slaughter to divide the people through communal polarisation for political gains," he said.
Vijayan also brought to the notice of the assembly the serious 'adverse' consequences the ban would have on various sectors including agriculture, dairy, leather industry and meat export trade.
"The notification is impractical in Kerala where 95 per cent of the population is non-vegetarian. It is clearly an intrusion into the citizens' choice of food," he said.
As the notification came under attack in the assembly, 'beef fry' was in demand at the assembly canteen with many MLAs partaking this dish.
Beef fry was served at the two units of the Indian Coffee House eatery on the assembly premises and in the staff canteen, assembly sources said.
On the impact on state's meat trade, Vijayan said 2.5 lakh tonnes of meat worth Rs 6,552 crore was sold in Kerala annually.
Vijayan also mentioned about the farmers unrest in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and said the community was already in crisis and the new rules would further add to their woes.
The chief minister said the state government would implead in the connected case pending in the Supreme Court.
Describing the notification as another "surgical strike" by the Modi government "like the note ban", opposition leader in assembly Ramesh Chennithala said this was "a sign of arrival of fascism" in the country.
"Modi has transformed himself into 'abhinava Hitler' (neo Hitler)," he alleged.
Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan said there seems to be an "indirect interest" behind the notification.
CPI-M veteran and former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, KC-M leader K M Mani were among those who spoke on the occasion.
Rajagopal said the coming together of the LDF and the UDF in the assembly was a sign of a "grand alliance" forming at the national level to take on the BJP.
He said the House has been "misused" for political purposes as the Centre has already made it clear that it was ready to make changes in the notification after getting suggestions from states.
The ministry of environment and forests notified the stringent Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 on May 25, banning the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter.
The Kerala government was the first to protest against the Centre's notification. It has also decided to convene a meeting of all chief ministers to discuss the issue.
Vijayan has also written to his counterparts in other states asking them to "stand together" and "oppose" the ban and urged the Prime Minister to withdraw the new regulations.
He has written to Modi opposing the ban and urging him to withdraw the new regulations.
Beef fests were held in various parts of the state last month to protest against the ban with some youth Congress activists in Kannur publicly slaughtering a calf to register their protest.
The attack on CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury at party headquarters A K G Centre in New Delhi on Wednesday also had its echo in the assembly with the party members alleging that the Sangh Parivar was trying to "silence" political rivals through "muscle power".