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Cow politics: Lessons from Alwar

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Some rejections are more noticeable than others. Among the disappointing results of the recent assembly elections that the Bharatiya Janata Party must deal with, its poor showing in Rajasthan’s Alwar district is particularly striking. The three murders by vigilante mobs on the pretext of cow slaughter or illegal transportation to occur in Rajasthan all happened in Alwar. So whatever the nitty-gritty of vote counts that allowed the Congress to do well in the region, as also the Bahujan Samaj Party, it would seem that polarizing communities by using the cow has led not to acceptance by the majority but comprehensive rejection by Alwar’s population. Around three lakh Meo Muslims, who traditionally rear cattle, live in the area, which borders Haryana, that, again, thrives on dairy farming. Yet trade in cattle between the regions has almost stopped, because no one from the minority community transporting cattle, even with all the right papers, is safe from mob violence. Banning cattle slaughter has also meant the destruction of a perfectly sensible ecology, resulting in hundreds of cattle straying into fields with crops. No farmer, irrespective of community, seems to have found this pleasant enough to vote for.

To conclude that ‘cow vigilantism’ is partially responsible for the BJP’s defeat means making another connection. Right-wing mobs on the rampage wear no official badge, and voices from the Centre, once in a while, mumble a condemnation or two of people taking the law into their own hands. (Maybe the mobs are going overboard in their passion for the law that even the Centre feels should be upheld at all costs.) The subtext in the Alwar vote was the connection in the voters’ minds between the vigilantes and the BJP. The perception, therefore, is that murderous vigilante mobs are the BJP’s unofficial standard-bearers; as they carry out the party’s unspoken wishes, murderers are either allowed to get away totally or are let go on bail. If killing for the cow did not work, will ‘love jihad’? That is the pretext under which right-wing forces called for a mahapanchayat in a village in Ramgarh, where assembly elections were postponed because one contestant died. Violence, even against the police, followed after hate speeches, especially one calling for the destruction of a community, were made. Is that the way right-wing forces plan to prevent this assembly seat from going to the Opposition? https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/cow-politics-lessons-from-voters-in-alwar-rajasthan-after-the-assembly-elections/cid/1679034

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