The announcement from the newly formed Congress-led government comes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections expected to happen in April-May. Congress had promised it in its manifesto
The Madhya Pradesh government on January 29 announced setting up of 1,000 gaushalas (protective shelters for cows) in the next four months that would accommodate around one lakh stray cows.
The announcement from the newly formed Congress-led government comes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections expected to happen in April-May.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath claimed that by instructing quick completion of the gaushala project, his government had fulfilled another poll promise. He added that the state had 614 private gaushalas, but did not have a single government-run gaushala.
Insisting that there was not one government-run gaushala in the state, Nath said by instructing quick completion of Project Gaushala his government had fulfilled one more promise made in the party’s manifesto.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the Rural Development Department will be the nodal agency for the project.
The gram panchayats, organisations affiliated to the state cow protection board, self-help groups and organisations chosen by district committees will implement the project, the report added.
In the lead-up to the state elections, on September 3, 2018, then Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) President Nath had said the party would build gaushalas in every panchayat of the state.
In a tweet, Nath said, “Pradesh ki har panchayat mein 'gaushala' banayenge. Ye ghoshna nahi, vachan hai (We will build a gaushalas in every panchayat. This is a promise, not an announcement).”
There are 23,006 panchayats in the state.
The move is being seen as a ‘soft Hindutva’ pitch ahead of the general election. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Congress had won two (Jyotiraditya Scindia’s Guna and Nath’s Chhindwara) out of the state’s total 29 seats.
After having trounced the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the assembly election in November-December 2018, the Rahul Gandhi-led party is hoping to win significantly more number of seats in Madhya Pradesh.
Speaking to News18 during the election campaign, Nath had denied playing the ‘soft Hindutva’ card to counter the BJP.“I think with the deep respect that we have for cows, it is important to have a gaushala in every panchayat. What is religious about it? It is our sentiment, it is our belief. There is nothing wrong in it. The BJP will say it is Hindutva but are they the authority of the Hindu religion? Have they taken up distribution of Hindu religion? We are as religious as them,” Nath had said.