Cow or swamp deer? Madhya Pradesh debates

March 12th, 2011 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bhopal, March 12 (IANS) Its leaders and supporters may worship the cow, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Madhya Pradesh is in no mood to replace the swamp deer by cow as the “state animal”.

It was seven years back that then chief minister Uma Bharti decided to declare cow as the state animal.

But when Shivraj Singh Chouhan became chief minister, he decided to continue with the swamp deer, an endangered species.

However, he announced in 2006 that he would declare cow as “holy animal”. Even that has not happened.

Found largely in the Kanha National Park, swamp deer is easily recognised by its short coat, light colour, slight build and fine antlers.

Down to 66 in 1970, its numbers have risen to over 500 now through careful management.

The concept of a “holy animal” was another first by the BJP regime, which has declared Maheshwar, Maihar, Amarkantak, Orcha, Chitrakoot and parts of Ujjain as holy cities.

In these cities, sale of eggs, fish, meat and liquor is prohibited.

Madhya Pradesh has 21 percent of India’s forest cover, 11 national parks and 32 wildlife sanctuaries - famous for the white tiger, Barasingha (swamp deer), leopard, Sambhar, black buck and the wild buffalo.

The figure of cows in the state has gone up in the four years (2003-2007) from 18.9 million to 21.9 million.

“As soon as I stepoed down, the matter was put on cold storage,” reacted former animal husbandry minister Ramakant Tiwari, referring to Madhya Pradesh’s failure to declre the cow as “holy”.

Officials believe that as cow slaughter is banned in the state, it would not make much of a difference whether or not the cow was declared a holy animal.

The ban on cow slaughter is sufficient, feels Meghraj Jain, president of Gaupalan and Pashudhan Sanwardhan Board.

Said Uma Bharti: “It is unfortunate that even after my announcement no decision has taken on it.”

Animal Husbandry Minister Ajay Bishnoi told IANS: “We can declare cow as a holy animal only after talking to party functionaries.”

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