In an exclusive interview to TNM, former CM Kumaraswamy alleged that the bill was a distraction to divert people’s attention from the government’s failures.

BS Yediyurappa and HD Kumaraswamy in a dark blue background with cows
news Interview Monday, December 14, 2020 - 14:37

Ahead of the Karnataka Legislative Council reconvening on Tuesday to pass ‘important bills’, the fate of the contentious Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020, will depend on how the JD(S) will vote. With the Congress making it clear that they will vote against the bill, the spotlight is on the JD(S) to see if they will support the government, like they did for the Land Reforms Bill. 

In an exclusive interview to TNM, former Karnataka Chief Minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy says his party will ensure that the anti-cow slaughter bill will not become a law. “We have been opposed to the anti-cow slaughter bill from the beginning and there are no changes in that. There is already a law in existence from 1964. There is no necessity to bring another bill on the same issue. We have heard that the government might push the bill through the ordinance route, we will oppose that as well,” says Kumaraswamy. 

The Legislative Assembly passed the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020, on December 9, without a debate, after the Opposition stormed out of the House protesting. 

One of the huge concerns regarding the bill is that it would empower the police to search and seize anyone with just a suspicion of violation. Kumaraswamy says it would empower vigilante groups to attack and harass with no fear of law. “The bill that has been tabled in Karnataka Assembly will give an opportunity for harassment,  not just of farmers but of the common man as well. And it will empower the cow vigilantes in the state. It will create a situation where nobody can file cases or take action against them. Every year India exports beef roughly worth Rs 29,000 crore. The BJP and the bill is silent on the export. Gujarat is one of the largest exporters of beef. What about that?” he questioned.

Read: Karnataka beef ban: Beyond restaurant menu, here's how things will change

The practical issues that will accompany the enforcement of the bill too has been highlighted. The question of how farmers will take care of cattle that yield no economic return of investment to them has only received ambiguous answers by the government. 

“Farmers own and nurture cows. And farmers can belong to any community. Today,  there is no opportunity to make money or profit out of farming alone. But if a farmer has a few cows maybe there can be marginal financial prosperity in this house.  If you tell the farmer that he cannot even sell a male cow that is born it means that he will have to spend at least Rs 200-300 every day. There are no grazing lands anymore in Karnataka. Whatever grazing lands there are have either been encroached or have been taken over by the government, which means that the farmer will have to artificially produce feed for the cows. The farmer in Karnataka who is already reeling under economic burden will now be further burdened,” Kumaraswamy tells TNM. 

The former CM further questioned the government’s motivation behind the bill. “This bill is being brought in purely to satisfy a certain section of the society. On one side the Congress is only speaking about Muslims and how the bill will affect them. On the other hand, the BJP is only thinking about a small section that only worships the cow and not the common man in the farming community. Nobody is speaking about the farmers the bill will oppress.”

The Congress had said that the government had violated Legislative protocols by not mentioning in the Business Advisory Committee(BAC) about tabling the bill and had alleged that they had not even received a copy of the bill to study. Kumaraswamy also confirms the same to TNM. “We did not receive a copy of the bill before tabling in the Assembly. We were told that the government had assured the BAC that the bill will not be tabled. By taking advantage of Congress' protest the government passed a bill in the Assembly.” 

Kumaraswamy alleges that the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020 was a distraction to divert attention from government’s failures. “There are bigger, far serious issues for the government to deal with. Due to coronavirus people are still suffering immensely. So instead of addressing these issues the government is trying to divert the attention of people from the failures of the government.”

Read: There is no 'too much democracy', Karnataka govt’s bulldozing of beef Bill is proof