As if the meat ban during a Jain festival were not enough, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture & Tourism Mahesh Sharma wants the proscription extended to Navratri. Social conservatism has indeed gone berserk in India.
“If the sacrifices of a few help maintain the religious sentiments of a section of society, there is no harm in doing this,” he told an interviewer. Ominously, he and his party are in favor of meat ban during the nine days of Navratri festival: “It will be a political decision. We would want that.”
Sharma is not just another player jumping on the ban-wagon; he is actually doing exactly the opposite of what he is supposed to do. As Tourism Minister, it is his duty to create an environment so that more and more people, Indian as well as foreigners, travel in our country. But by promoting vegetarian terrorism, he may frighten away the foreigners.
The meat ban is not only unconstitutional and fascistic but also idiotic. It is illiberal and anti-democratic because it deprives the citizens of their right to exercise their way of life and, for many, their right to livelihood. The idiocy arises from the fact that a large section of Hindus, whose interests the Bharatiya Janata Party claims to represent, are non-vegetarian. According to a survey, about two-thirds of Hindus eat meat. Even if this is an overestimation, say, by double, it still leaves one-third of Hindus as non-vegetarian. It may appear that the meat ban serves no electoral or political purpose, as it just ends up annoying, if not alienating, one-third of its potential voters.
A closer scrutiny of the subject would reveal something truly despicable: the BJP wants to be seen as the champion of Hindus without actually doing anything for them. It may be argued: how can the party expect to be even seen as safeguarding the interests of Hindus by going against the wishes of a large section of them? Well, the answer is simple: the party believes that most Hindus are vegetarian, and even those who are non-veg can be made to give up meat-eating habits.
The BJP believes that it can fool all the Hindus. It has not done anything to implement the uniform civil code. Do you remember a single BJP leader of any standing even utter the word on the subject? Nor do BJP grandees talk about a tough stand against Bangladeshi infiltrators. Similarly, all the pledges of doing away with Article 370 have been forgotten; in fact, now the saffron party is sitting in the lap of arguably the most pro-jihad outfit, the PDP. The Ram Temple is a also forgotten promise. A few years earlier, Sushma Swaraj called it a cheque that had been cashed. Can you cash a cheque twice, she had brazenly asked reporters.
This is the character of BJP leaders. For them, patriotic posturing is a tool of deception, lofty ideals are embellishments to be flaunted but never imbibed, and promises are commodities to be sold in the political market. This is the reason that even Lord Rama, the Maryada Purushottam they wax so eloquently about, is just a cheque that, unfortunately, cannot be cashed twice.
Therefore, Hindus should not delude themselves of thinking that the BJP is trying to shield their interests; it is just indulging in illusionistic tactics. The only god it believes in is not Lord Rama or any other deity from the Hindu pantheon but power; power is the be-all and end-all of the BJP.