Soon after the municipal corporations of Vadodara, Rajkot and Bhavnagar, all ruled by the BJP, instructed shopkeepers and vendors to cover non-vegetarian food on their display counters as it could “hurt” religious sentiments, a political functionary of the Ahmedabad civic body has taken the policing a notch higher by suggesting a complete removal of food carts selling non-vegetarian food.
On Thursday, Vadodara civic body standing committee chairperson Hitendra Patel asked food stall owners to remove non-vegetarian items from public display within 15 days. Earlier a similar instruction was announced by the mayor of Rajkot city, stating that while the vending carts caused traffic jams, the open display of meat “hurt religious sentiments”.
The issue, however, has left the leaders in the state divided, with state BJP chief CR Paatil clarifying that such instructions were issued based on the “personal beliefs” of some functionaries in the said corporations and didn’t reflect the party’s philosophy.
“I have talked to authorities in the Vadodara and Rajkot civic bodies and told them not to remove the non-vegetarian food carts from the streets. It was the personal opinion of independent leaders and state BJP has nothing to do with it and we will not implement it across the state,” Paatil told the media.
On Saturday, in a letter to the Municipal Commissioner and the Standing Committee on Saturday, AMC Revenue Committee Chairperson Jainik Vakil said that the sale of meat, mutton and fish in public places should be banned as it not only encourages encroachment but also hurts religious sentiments of people.
“Keeping in mind Gujarat’s identity and Karnavati (Ahmedabad) city’s cultural tradition, it is important to immediately clear encroachment by illegally proliferating non-vegetarian food carts on city’s public roads, religious and educational places…due to sale of meat, mutton and fish in public places citizens cannot move on roads. In addition to this, residents’ religious sentiments are hurt too. Also, it has become important in order to maintain cleanliness, jeevdaya and adherence to our culture,” Vakil wrote in the letter.
Reports said while the committee couldn’t arrive at a unanimous decision on the matter, demands made in the letter haven’t been received well in BJP circles.
While many in the party, vegetarians themselves, have opposed any proposal to ban non-vegetarian food as it is the source of livelihood for many families, others have said that such a diktat is not the way the BJP works.
“We cannot ignore the fact that many people selling fish are our own…Narendra Modi sahib, being a strict vegetarian, never imposed restrictions on those involved in the trade of non-vegetarian food during his tenure as chief minister or even (now) as Prime Minister…There should be alternate means made available for them to continue,” Nandita Thakur, former BJP IT cell president of Kheda district, said in a tweet.
Vadodara mayor Keyur Rokadia said as per the instruction issued by Paatil, the civic body will not remove any stalls selling non veg food or “arbitrarily stop anyone from selling a particular kind of food.” He, however, added that there is no harm in covering the non-vegetarian food.