Not to be outdone, now the Trinamool plans to gift free bovines to poor farmers
In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is all set to commandeer the saffron monopoly over cows and their protection. Bent on proving that cows cannot be tethered to gaushalas of a particular political hue, the chief minister has decided to gift cows to poor farmers in her state.
The objective, officials associated with the initiative say, is to help small and marginal farming families supplement their incomes by selling milk and using dung to produce eco-friendly fuel and manure for organic farming. “This will not only ensure better living conditions for the cattle population, but will generate alternative employment opportunities for farmers, especially in the unfortunate event of crop failure,” said an agriculture department officer.
Farmers in North 24 Parganas and Hooghly districts will receive the first batches of the gift cows. And going one
better than the National Gokul Mission, where the Centre and state share the cost of the animals given to farmers, Mamata’s government will fully fund the state’s ‘Godaan’ scheme. That’s not all. A most vocal critic of the Modi government proposal to introduce Aadhaar-like tags for cows, Mamata’s government is now working on assigning UIDs (unique identification numbers) to the state’s bovine population (this was apparently decided following a cow census in 2014).
Paschimbanga go sampad bikash sangstha, a state body under the animal resources development department, has hired 5,174 praanimitras (friends of animals) to tag the cows. Some 1.38 million cows have already been assigned UIDs.
“Our idea is to keep a count of the cows to improve bovine breeds and enhance milk production,” says animal resources development minister Swapan Debnath insisting that the TMC government’s UID project was completely different from the Centre’s Aadhaar tag proposal.
In fact, the two are almost identical. Both entail documentation of the breed, age, sex, height, hide colour, horn type and lactation profile of each animal. Even the praanimitras employed to do the job seem to be modelled on the 6,000-odd gau rakshaks enlisted by the RSS’s state cow protection cell.
Mamata is clearly intent on affecting cow-love, as if to say that when it comes to protecting cows, the TMC is ‘holier’ than the BJP.
MAMATA’S PRAANIMITRAS SEEM TO BE MODELLED ON THE GAU RAKSHAKS OF THE RSS