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Put down cow vigilantism: PM

| | New Delhi
Put down cow vigilantism: PM

Gearing up to pre-empt the Opposition attack over “cow vigilantism” in the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought to put the onus for checking such “hooliganism” on State Governments, insisting that they should 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. Prime Minister’s tweets came soon after the all-party meeting chaired by him on the eve of the Monsoon Session. It is widely believed that the Prime Minister has come on the forefront after sensing the mood of the Opposition parties.

In the meeting answering to the Opposition leaders on the issue, Modi said maintaining law and order was the responsibility of the State Governments, which should take strict action against perpetrators of such incidents.

“The 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, and those who want to damage the social fabric of the country are also taking advantage of it. He said such incidents sullied country’s image.

“The 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.

Notwithstanding the PM’s statement, the cow vigilantism and related lynching is likely to be key issue for the Opposition, which is also set to raise other issues like killing of farmers in police firing in Madhya Pradesh  and the Kashmir unrest.

Economic issues, especially alleged lack of jobs, are also likely to be taken up by the Opposition parties to corner the Government. The Prime Minister’s first-ever visit to Israel is also likely to figure for discussion in the coming session.

A structured meeting within the Congress on the party’s strategy in the coming session is slated on Monday, when the session is unlikely to transact much business due to the Presidential election. While a joint meeting of Opposition leaders is slated on Tuesday for putting in place their strategy for the session, other issues like the flood situation particularly in Assam and other North-Eastern States, violence over Gorkhaland, fallout of demonetisation, job losses and disinvestment of PSUs are also likely to be raised.

The PM’s statements on cow vigilantism assume significance in context of the recent incidents of violence in different parts of the country in the name of cow protection. The Prime Minister also urged all parties to extend their support to the Government in fighting corruption.

Apparently hinting at the Trinamool Congress and the RJD 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 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 NDA 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 the 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 border stand-off 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.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and SS Ahluwalia also attended the meet. Among Opposition leaders who attended the meeting were Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Farooq Abdullah (NC) and D Raja (CPI). However, no one from the JD(U) or the Trinamool Congress was present. The TMC had announced it would boycott the meeting amid recriminations between it and the BJP over the recent violence in West Bengal.



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