Tura, Meghalaya: A second BJP leader from Meghalaya has quit over the Centre’s ban on the sale of cattle in markets for slaughter in what is seen as a blow to the party in the poll-bound northeast State.
The resignation of North Garo Hills district BJP president Bachu Marak four days after his counterpart in West Garo Hills district Bernard Marak made an exit on the same issue comes at a time when the BJP seeks to expand its imprint in the northeast.
But, the BJP remained unfazed with its national spokesman Nalin Kohli, who is party in-charge of Meghalaya, welcoming the resignations, saying the two leaders are already facing disciplinary action for alleged anti-party activities.
Assembly polls in Meghalaya are due to be held next year along with two other northeastern states–Mizoram and Nagaland. Beef is widely consumed in these three Christian-majority States. The term of Congress-ruled Meghalaya ends on March 6, 2018.
Bachu Marak said he cannot compromise on the sentiments of the Garos, asserting that beef eating is part of their culture and tradition.
“I cannot compromise on the sentiments of the Garos. As a Garo, it is my responsibility to protect the interest of my community. Beef eating is part of our culture and tradition.
Imposition of BJP’s non-secular ideology on us is not acceptable,” he said after resigning from the party.
Bachu Marak submitted his resignation to state party president Shibun Lyngdoh.
He had proposed a ‘bitchi’ (rice beer) and beef party in the Garo Hills on his Facebook page recently to mark the Narendra Modi government’s three years in office and had attracted the criticism of the party leadership. ‘Bitchi’ is a local brew usually partaken during festivals among the Garo tribals in western Meghalaya.
Following this, Kohli had warned of stringent action against Bachu Marak.
Later, announcing his resignation from the party in another Facebook post, Bachu Marak said, “My Tradition and Cultures is (sic) my first priority and Party at Last. Why is beef Everytime the issue, why not pig, chicken, goat and other animals.”
Bernard Marak is organising a beef party at the Eden Bari locality of Tura on June 10 and Bachu is expected to participate in the event.
“I will attend the beef party in Tura to register our voice against such moves of the BJP,” Bachu Marak said.
Kohli said those who resigned are “ticket aspirants” against whom “disciplinary proceedings” are on.
Kohli said the two leaders were trying to “sabotage” the 2018 assembly polls in the State.
“These persons were actively working to sabotage the prospects of our potential candidates for the state elections next year. They were aspirants themselves and the party did not see them as winning candidates,” he said.
Welcoming the resignation of Bachu Marak, Kohli said it was on “expected” lines since disciplinary action against him was underway.
He went on to put the blame on the ruling Congress for trying to “communalize the agenda with a false and malicious untruth” about the party’s plan to impose beef ban in Meghalaya.
“Nothing is farther from the truth since under our constitutional scheme, the Central government cannot encroach on the area of what a state government has to decide,” he said.
Bernard Marak, who had joined the BJP last year, had resigned on June one.
“In the interest of the Garo people, I have put in my papers as a mark of protest against the party’s stand on beef,” Bernard Marak had said.
“I have resigned because I am a Christian and a Garo first. Steps taken by the party, especially in the Garo Hills are not in the interest of the people,” he said.
Bernard , a former leader of an armed militant group – the Achik National Volunteer Council – had recently said on the social media that the BJP, if voted to power in Meghalaya in 2018, will make beef cheaper, a statement which did not go down well with the party leadership.
The State BJP had disowned Marak’s remark although the state BJP chief, Shibun Lyndoh, admitted the party “is not against” people having beef.
Shibun said a tribal state like Meghalaya, where beef consumption is the highest in the country, cannot impose a ban against the will of the people.
“What we would like to have is regulations to check that slaughter houses are hygienic and clean in the interest of all beef eaters,” he said.