NEW DELHI: A contentious bill to ban cow slaughter and ensure stabilisation of the population of the Indian breed of bovines was today withdrawn by BJP member Subramanian Swamy in the Rajya Sabha after the government urged him to do so.
While withdrawing his Cow Protection Bill 2017 during the private members' business, Swamy said he would like the government to put a voluntary cess to ensure that the cows are looked after they cease to give milk.
During a 2-hour discussion on the bill, the Upper House witnessed heated exchanges when members of the Opposition objected to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal standing up and saying that such an important issue was being "made fun of", after Samajwadi Party member Javed Ali Khan spoke on it.
Khan said cow should be immediately declared the national animal and provisions made whereby the government is held responsible for rearing and nourishment of cows. He also said India must end its diplomatic ties with countries which trade in meat.
Intervening in the debate, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said over the past 3.5 years, the government has been working on various schemes related to cow welfare.
"We have been taking steps for the protection and promotion of the cow. I want to assure Swamy that we are working in the same direction. With these words I request you to withdraw the bill," the Minister said.
In response, Swamy said "I wanted a law to come, but want the government to seriously consider putting a voluntary cess for the purpose of ensuring that cows are looked after they cease to give milk."
He said 'gaushalas' (cow sheds) should be set up and scientifically run. An authority to ensure stabilization of population of cows (Bos Indicus) should also be set up and the people would not hesitate to contribute.
"So the only thing that remains is the law. But since the minister has said that in consulation with me, he will proceed in this matter. I would like to give government one more chance so that I don't have to come back again with another bill. ... Therefore, permit me to withdraw the bill," Swamy told the Chair.
During the debate, Congress member Rajeev Shukla asked Swamy "why doesn't the BJP discuss the matter of cow slaugher with Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar?" The Goa CM had recently backed beef traders and warned vigilante groups attacking them.
Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu (Congress) observed that Swamy was earlier the Commerce Minister and the present-day Ministry has a separate Committee to promote export of beef.
"We are not addressing the real issues. We are giving just emotional tinge to the aspects with which we can polarise, we can exploit, we can divert," Rapolu said.
When D Raja (CPI) was speaking, the Railway Minister stood up and alleged that SP's Javed Ali Khan had used some derogatory language and sought that these remarks be expunged.
There were heated exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches as Congress leader Jairam Ramesh alleged that Goyal had used a derogatory word. But Kurien said the Minister had made a casual remark.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi defended Goyal, saying the Railway Minister did not say anything against anyone.
In his speech, Raja said he opposed to the Bill and took a dig at Swamy, saying some Tamilian friends referred to him as a "Buddhi Pishaach".
Raja said the cow was being used as a weapon of hate, either in the name of religion or law alleging that the legislation would legitimise cow vigilante groups and encourage mob lynching. He asked the government to make its position clear.
Raja also took a jibe at Swamy saying he should advise Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that instead of going for health protection scheme, he should go for cow protection, adding "I don't know whether the Finance Minister listens to you".
In his response, Swamy claimed that prohibition of cow slaughter was there in the Directive Principles of the Constitution.
"Cow eating was not prevalent during the Mughal period.
The last empire was in 1857 when the first thing Bahadur Shah Zafar declared was a ban on cow slaughter.
"There are anectocal information that Babar had told his son Humayun, don't allow the slaughter of cows. It is a sentimental issue. It is the British who made the cow cutting a part of our regular fashionable cuisine and that is how it became prevalent in our country," Swamy said.
He claimed that patents have been given for cow urine because the urea that is produced is used in modern medicine.
Attacking the Congress, he said "the first anti-cow sluaghter bill passed was in Madhya Pradesh ...all these congress people including Dr Rajendra Prasad were in the forefront saying that cow should be give a special place and its killing should be banned," Swamy said.