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Kerala chief minister writes to counterparts for unifying opposition to cattle trade ban

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-05-2017 Nidheesh M.K.

Bengaluru: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday wrote to his counterparts in other states on the new cattle slaughter rules, asking them to reject the restrictions on the grounds of alleged violation of federal powers.

The notification issued by Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)-led central government is “a covert attempt to usurp the powers of state legislatures”, he said in the letter.

Vijayan has come out vociferously against the new norms, turning it into a state versus centre debate. Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, while the activists associated with his ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) have been holding “beef fests” across the state for the last two days as a mark of protest.

The new norms prohibit the sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets, effectively barring this nationwide, including in states such as Kerala, which allow the slaughter of cows. It has found few takers in Kerala, where beef is a popular food item. That apart, the issue has also become something for the CPM and other non-BJP parties to mount a fresh attack on the BJP, which has been gaining some foothold in the state as a third front threatening the state’s traditional bipolar politics.

“It appears strange that the rules are promulgated under the MPrevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 since they have nothing to do with the objects of the act. Neither are the rules covered by the express delegation of legislative powers contained in the act. Hence it is nothing but a covert attempt to usurp the powers of state legislatures in the guise of rules under a central act,” Vijayan said in the letter.

He alleged that the fresh norms will not stand the test of constitutionality and also violate the basic right of a person to freedom of choice regarding his food.

“Unless we stand together and oppose this anti-federal, anti-democratic and anti-secular move, it may mark the beginning of a series of similar measures aimed at destroying the federal democratic fabric and secular culture of our country. I would therefore fervently appeal to you to convey your objection to the 2017 rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to the Prime Minister, and to request him to withdraw the rules introduced without any consultation with the states. Since the matters dealt within the rules squarely fall within the purview of state Legislatures, the state governments may be allowed to formulate necessary policies and laws to suit the socio-cultural and economic milieu of the state,” said the letter.

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