Seeking to blunt the Opposition attack over cow vigilantism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought to put the onus for checking such “hooliganism” on state governments, insisting that they take “stringent action” against them.
The prime minister also sought the support of opposition parties in tackling “communal violence” in the name of cow protection, and deprecated attempts at giving political or communal colour to the issue.
“All political parties should collectively denounce hooliganism in the name of cow protection. The state governments should take stringent action against such anti-social elements,” Modi said in a series of tweets.
Earlier in the day, he told an all-party meeting on the eve of the start of the Monsoon Session of Parliament on Monday that maintaining law and order was the responsibility of state governments, which should take strict action against perpetrators of such incidents.
“Cow is treated as a mother and it is an emotive issue. But we have to understand that there are laws governing cow protection and breaking it is not an alternative,” Modi tweeted after the meeting.
He said some anti-social elements were using cow protection as “a tool to spread anarchy. Some people who want to damage the social fabric of the country are also taking advantage of it.
Modi said such incidents sullied the image of the country.
“State governments must ensure the maintenance of law and order and strict action must be taken against those who break the law,” an official statement quoted Modi having told the meeting.
The statements assume significance in context of the recent incidents of violence in different parts of the country in the name of cow protection.
Opposition parties have attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party over the cases of cow vigilantism in which Muslims and Dalits have often been targeted. These parties have also planned to raise the issue during the Parliament session starting Monday.
The prime minister also urged all parties to extend their support to the government in fighting corruption.
Apparently hinting at Trinamool Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal on the issue of corruption, the prime minister said the political class should join hands against those who seek an escape route by dubbing action against them in graft cases as a political conspiracy.
“When law takes its course against those who loot the nation, we have to unite against those who seek an escape route by dubbing such an action as a political conspiracy,”the prime minister tweeted.
In his speech, Modi also referred to the presidential poll to be held on Monday and said it would have been better had there been a consensus on the candidate.
He, however, said “high level of dignity” has been maintained by both sides during the campaign and there was no ill will and foul language was not used. He also called upon all political parties to ensure that everyone votes and no vote is wasted.
While the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has named Ram Nath Kovind its candidate, the Congress-led group of opposition parties has fielded former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar. Kovind has a big numerical advantage over his rival.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters after the meeting that Modi also noted that 75th anniversary of the Quit India movement falls on August 9 and all parties should celebrate it.
He also thanked everyone for the implementation of the GST, calling it a “shining example of co-operative federalism”.
On the issue of Kashmir and tensions with China, Kumar said the government had a meeting with opposition leaders who said they were with the government on matters of national security.
To preserve institutions of democracy, Modi said, it was important that all political parties support the government in conducting the business in Parliament without disruption so constructive discussion can take place on issues of national importance.
“The prime minister in one voice with the leaders of all parties also asserted that all political parties stand united to ensure the nation’s safety and security, after such concerns were raised by many leaders on recent developments,” he said.
There was a consensus on ensuring the smooth functioning of Parliament and that deadlocks should be resolved through constructive discussion, he said.
Among opposition leaders who attended the meeting were Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference and D Raja of the CPI.
However, no one from the Janata Dal-United or the Trinamool Congress was present. TMC had announced it would boycott the meeting amid recriminations between it and the BJP over the recent violence in West Bengal.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with NCP chief Sharad Pawar, President of National Conference Farooq Abdullah and CPI's D Raja after an all-party meeting ahead of monsoon session of Parliament. Phptograph: Subhav Shukla/PTI Photo