If you take the opinion of hundred Indians regarding beef and cow slaughter, you would get diverse reactions. Some would fully support consumption of beef, some would oppose killing of any animal, some would vehemently oppose killing of cows as they consider Holy as per their religious beliefs and so on. The current elected Government of India belongs to the right-wing party called Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), who have absolute majority in Indian Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament). BJP has heavily relied on the Hindu votes to win the elections in India. They do not have even a single Muslim Member of Parliament, even though India has over 14% Muslim population.
BJP’s total vote share was 31% during 2014 elections and it was enough to win 282 seats in the parliamentary democracy of India. BJP fully understands that, there are at least 31% people in India who fully oppose killing of cows in India and majority of them happen to be from their vote-base. Also, the cost of vote acquisition and retention in India is extremely expensive. So, it’s very important for political parties in India to identify means to reduce the overall cost. In case of BJP, their primary concern is to retain the 31% vote share by keeping the cost as minimal as possible. That’s where issues such as cow slaughter, religious conversion program called “Ghar Wapsi”, birth control of minorities, etc. become essential. Making these non-essential matters into national issues helps BJP in showcasing to their 31% vote-bank that they are indeed working relentlessly, thereby retaining their vote share.
Essentially, there are five groups of people in India, who are opposed to cow slaughter. Together these five groups form over 50% of Indian population.
|Type of People who oppose slaughtering of Cows||Why they oppose cow slaughter?|
|Those who are vegetarians in India||Don’t like killing of any animals, so they oppose killing of cows, which also happen to be a vegetarian.|
|Those who think cow slaughter is against their religious belief.||Some followers of Hinduism believe that slaughtering of cows is prohibited in their religion. Irrespective of whether it’s actually mentioned in the scriptures of Hinduism or not, this belief is fairly strong among these people and it must be respected. These people do get offended when they see people consuming beef. However, they also believe the other teachings of Hinduism that promotes tolerance and peace. So, they either they express their dissatisfaction or try convincing through peaceful means to not kill the cows.|
|Those who think cow slaughter should be banned because it against religious beliefs of Hindus||Several Muslims, Christians and members of other minority religion believe that, cow slaughter should be banned because it’s against the religious beliefs of Hindus and they don’t to be in constant conflict with the majority community in India. A part of this group essentially sees it as a not so difficult sacrifice they can make to co-exist with the Hindus.|
|Those who want to oppose cow slaughter because they hate Muslims (beef eaters).||These set of people don’t want slaughter of cows to happen because primarily they think Muslims in India eat beef and they hate Muslims. So, they will go any length to ensure that, cow slaughter ban is ensured in India. These are people who indulge in violent attacks on those who consume beef.|
|Those who oppose cow slaughter because it helps them politically.||These are the people who are ready to do anything for political gains. If they see cow slaughter can help them win elections they will oppose it by going any extent. The day they will see it’s not helping them politically, they will treat it as a non-issue.|
So, politically it makes sense for right-wing parties to support ban on cow-slaughter in India. And they fully understand that, despite regulations around cow-slaughter, in a country of 1.2 billion people, there will always be few will resort to cow-slaughter and this issue will remain relevant in Indian community.