Political acrimony over the ban on meat by civic bodies in Mumbai during the Jain fasting days grew with ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ally Shiv Sena on Wednesday vowing that it would ensure there is no such restriction.
The Sena’s stand came in the wake of Opposition – the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party -- slamming Tuesday’s order by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation -- ruled by Sena and BJP – prohibiting meat sale for eight days from September 11 to 18 when the Jain community will observe fasting period ‘Paryushan’.
According to the order, the ban would be enforced on four days - September 10, 13, 17 and 18.
However, the NCP-controlled Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation also announced the suspension of sale of meat till September 17 in view of ‘Paryushan’, though the party had on Tuesday joined the Congress in voicing reservation over it.
Taking a strident position on the matter, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said, “We will ensure there is no ban on sale of meat for the eight days.”
Interestingly, Sena is the dominant partner in BMC where it shares power with BJP.
The BJP, which has pressed for the ban, held that the decision was taken by the civic bodies and the state government has no role in it.
The NCP had on Tuesday voiced reservation over the ban order, with the party along with Congress dubbing it as a BJP ploy to polarise voters with an eye on the elections to the civic body due in early 2017.
The ward officer of A ward in Navi Mumbai said in a statement that there will be no sale of meat from Wednesday till September 17.
BMC recently announced suspension of meat sale and shutting down of its slaughter house at Deonar in suburban Mumbai on September 10, 13, 17 and 18 in deference to the sentiments of the Jain community members, who during ‘Paryushan’ even shun all root vegetables.
The ban covers mutton and chicken, and excludes fish and eggs. It also extends to private businesses selling raw meat.
The ban on sale of meat during ‘Paryushan’ has been in force since 1964, when the BMC passed a resolution directing a two-day prohibition on sale of meat in response to the demands by Jains, a powerful community, which holds key stakes in business and industry in Mumbai.
In 2004, the Congress-NCP government passed another resolution extending it by another two days across Mumbai every September. The BMC ban on meat came close on the heels of the adjoining Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation, where the BJP
has an upper hand, passing a resolution to ban sale of meat in the satellite town’s civic markets for the entire ‘Paryushan’ season.
Supporting the ban, Manoj Kotak, BJP leader in the BMC, said, “Lord Mahavir is an avatar of Vishnu. If the Jain community feels that harming animals will hurt the community’s sentiments during ‘Paryushan’, then what is wrong in demanding a ban? When people refrain from drinking liquor on October 2, do politicians question their decision?”
The Congress and NCP had on Tuesday slammed the decision to ban meat sale during the upcoming fasting period of Jains in Mumbai and neighbouring Mira Bhayander, saying BJP-Shiv Sena were trying to “polarise” voters ahead of municipal corporation polls.
The BMC elections are due February 2017, a crucial battle for the main political players in the state.
State NCP president Sunil Tatkare had said the government should have taken a decision by consensus respecting the sentiments of Jains and also ensuring that rest of the society is not hurt.
Reuters image used for representational purposes only