Political tensions seem to be brewing in Mumbai over the ban on sale of meat for four days during the upcoming 'Paryushan' Jain holy festival in the city.
The Shiv Sena and the MNS have reportedly decided to protest against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) decision to shut municipalised animal slaughter houses in Mumbai for the four days during Paryushan, the fasting period of the Jain community.
According to a report by The Times of India, the Sena plans to "encourage" the sale of meat and chicken in the city, focusing on Marathi-dominated areas, whereas the MNS will sell mutton at 11 am in Dadar on Thursday.
"We will ensure there is no ban on sale of meat for the eight days," Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said.
The TOI report states, "Clearly , the Sena is in a dilemma over the issue.On the one hand, the party leadership doesn't wish to ruffle the BJP's and Jain community's feathers on a religious issue. On the other hand, it is worried that by keeping mum on the issue, which is close to the heart of the Marathi community, the Sena may lose its vote bank to the MNS in run up to the BMC elections."
The Congress too has opposed ban. However, the decision to ban sale of meat during the period of Paryushan was taken by the previous Congress-NCP government, officials told the newspaper.
The ban, imposed by the BMC will be implemented on September 10, 13, 17 and 18 when slaughter of meat will be stopped in the Deonar abattoir and sale will not be permitted in the city. The Paryushan is scheduled between September 10-17, with the 10-day Ganeshotsav starting from September 17, and Bakri Eid falling on September 22-23.
The decision to ban meat sale - following a demand by the Ahimsa Sangh's Vishwamaitri Trust, besides Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians like Raj Purohit and Atul Shah - was passed by the BMC on Monday.
However, the Shiv Sena, senior ruling partner in the BMC coalition with BJP, had distanced itself from the ban, though it respected Jain religious sentiments.
Besides the ban on slaughter of all animals, meat and poultry shops and fish markets shall remain shut on these four days, raising the heckles of the traders, businessmen and retailers of these fast-moving items in the city.
The Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the AIMIM, Samajwadi Party have joined the Shiv Sena in opposing the ban.
"This has come soon after a similar eight-day ban on meat in entire townships of Bhayander and Mira Road in Thane district for the Paryushan festival, and barely months after the people have been forced to stop beef consumption in the state last May onwards," said AIMIM legislator Waris Pathan.
MNS outspoken corporator Sandeep Deshpande said that the BJP is going against even the eating habits of the Marathi-speaking population who are meat-eaters.
"During our period of fasting or the holy month of Shravan, don't ask for ban on meat everywhere... Then why is (the BJP) favouring one particular community," Deshpande asked.
The BJP-controlled Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation last week imposed the ban on meat during Paryushan on the nearly million-strong population comprising significant chunks of Christians, Muslims and other Hindu meat-lovers, sparking off outrage. The ban here was reportedly reduced to two days on Wednesday.
The first such ban was permitted way back in 1964, then in 1994, later in 2004, in 2013 there was a two-day ban on meat during the Jain festival.
With inputs from IANS