Cow vigilantism vigorously pursued by the RSS-BJP in keeping with their Hindu communal plank to derive electoral mileage through polarization is now back-firing. Yogi Adityanath, the BJP chief minster of Uttar Pradesh (UP), who has been in the forefront of cow-politics, has banned cattle-slaughtering, abetted lynching of religious minorities and dalits by frenzied vigilantes, finds that as elections in the state is moving eastwards, awara pashu’ or stray cattle is becoming increasingly potent an issue much to the discomfiture of the ruling BJP. Crop damage by stray cattle wasn’t a major problem in the pre-Yogi government period, as the ban on slaughter was largely on paper. But as the number of strays–bulls, male calves and non-milking cows let loose by farmers themselves–have multiplied over time, its political fallout could well be more in the eastern ‘cow’ belt. While the Yogi government’s answer to the stray cattle menace has been to help build more gaushalas (cow shelters) and even prime minster Modi in his election speech at Unnao has promised to bring a new policy to address ‘‘chutta jaanvaron se pareshani (stray animal trouble)’’ after March 10, when the results of the ongoing polls are out, farmers are not too impressed. ‘‘If I take my animal there, they will straightaway demand Rs 2,000 from me.
They also loot the government by taking money and not properly feeding the animals,’’ avers one farmer who cultivates sugarcane, wheat and mustard. For farmers, the costs are not only on account of crop loss, but also erecting barbed wire fences around fields to prevent entry of animals. ‘‘For a single bigha (0.2 acres), 100 kg of steel wire at Rs 80-90/kg and 40 RCC poles (costing Rs 200-250/pole) are required for three rounds. That comes to over Rs 16,000,’’ points out a local panchayat office-bearer.
‘‘Without awara pashu, my wheat yields would be 4 quintals per bigha. But now I’ll be happy to even harvest 2 quintals,’’ notes another peasant, standing guard over his 4 bigha of wheat and one bigha of mustard at Durauni village in Gonda district.
The UP government is paying Rs 30 a day for every animal housed in gaushalas. The Gau Ashray Kendra at Maijapur in Colonelganj, which was opened in August 2020, has 57 female and 45 male cattle. An average animal, even if unproductive, needs to be given about 5 kg of bhusa (wheat straw) and 1 kg of either whole flour, cattlefeed, rice polish or mustard oilcake. The delivered cost of bhusa and polish is currently around Rs 16/kg, while Rs 22 for flour, Rs 24 for cattlefeed and Rs 40-42 for oilcake. ‘‘The Rs 30/day/animal provision cannot cover even the requirement of bhusa, including in the April-July period after harvesting when prices fall to Rs 7.5-8/kg,’’ admits one gaushala, catering to 12 villages in the Maijapur area. Things have come to such a pass that the farmers in just 40 km from Lucknow, reportedly released hundreds of cattle at an open ground near the venue of a rally by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath earlier on 2 February to highlight the stray cattle menace in their area.
Our suggestion to PM and Yogiji. Please rummage through the pages of ancient Hindu scriptures and myths. Definitely you would find there prescripts about solving this menacing problem they themselves have created to stay in power. How can the ancient sages be so short-sighted as not to foresee that pure Hindutva rulers like you would face such an embarrassment in 21st century and that too on the eve election? (Source: Hindustan Times 12.12.21, Indian Express 22.02.22, ND TV 22.02.22)