The cow dung scheme, announced by CM Baghel on June 25, can potentially rob the BJP of one of its most emotive poll planks.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has been left in an embarrassing position in Chhattisgarh after a wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh openly endorsed the Godhan Nyay Yojana announced by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. Under the scheme, the government will purchase cow dung the rate of Rs 1.50 per kg from cow-breeders and farmers. The scheme, set to be launched on July 21, has been scoffed at by the BJP which was displaced from power by the Congress in December 2018 after a 15-year tenure.
A group of RSS supporters met CM Baghel on Tuesday and handed over a letter of appreciation to him for announcing the scheme, the first by any state in the country. “In November 2019, we had started a statewide programme, urging district authorities to start purchasing cow dung and cow urine to help people in villages and those who look after cows. Since the government has accepted parts of our demands, we wanted to show gratitude and offer some suggestions,” Subodh Rathi, an RSS member and prant pramukh (regional head) of Gau-Gram Swawalamban Abhiyan, told The Indian Express.
“We had demanded that the cow dung be purchased at the rate of Rs 5 per kg. We also want the government to buy cow urine as it can be used to make bio-pesticide,” he added.
The cow dung scheme, announced by CM Baghel on June 25, can potentially rob the BJP of one of its most emotive poll planks. Cow protection and welfare are issues that have largely been associated with the BJP among mainstream political parties. Political observers point out that Baghel is attempting to tilt his balance in his favour through this scheme.
He had positioned himself as a protector of cows before the Assembly elections, when nearly 200 cows died at a shelter run by a BJP leader in his home district of Durg, and cornered the BJP on the issue. The BJP has also been asking questions of the state government over its management of the bovine population and the Godhan Nyay Yojana can be the perfect answer to the Opposition if implemented in spirit.
The scheme envisages purchase of cow dung at the rate of Rs 1.50 per kg from cattle-breeders and farmers. Announcing the scheme last month, Baghel had said that the government intends to make cow-rearing economically viable through this scheme. The Chief Minister believes that cows will not be treated well until they are not economically viable. “Once they stop giving milk, they are left to roam around. This has led to fights and people have even been killed as a result,” he said, adding that in a bid to ensure that the focus of cow rearing is not limited to milk production, the state government has decided it will buy cow dung.
The BJP has scoffed at this idea with former panchayat minister Ajay Chandrakar even going to the extent of calling the government cow-dung dependent. Some other BJP leaders have also mocked the scheme, saying that instead of educating the youth, the Congress government wants them to look for cow dung.
With the letter from the RSS wing leaving much to answer for the BJP, former CM Raman Singh said that the RSS has a lot of wings, and if some individuals want to express their support, “it shouldn’t be taken as RSS’s support”. He has also dismissed CM Baghel’s scheme as a “declaration without any framework”.