Politics over the ban of meat during a Jain festival in Maharashtra has snowballed into a full-scale standoff between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its saffron ally, the Shiv Sena. The Sena has censured the Jain community for “indulging in religious games” that could cause serious friction between communities.
In a strident edit in its party mouthpiece Saamna , the Sena warned the Jain community that they stood to “cut themselves off from the mainstream like Muslims” with this meat ban during the Jain fasting period of ‘Paryushan.’
Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, along with the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), defied the controversial four-day ban that began on Thursday after an order issued by the BJP in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the BJP-controlled Mira-Bhayander civic body.
The Sena asserted that while Brahmins, Patels and Lingayats are also vegetarians, they never made any demands to impose vegetarianism on others. Likewise, the party said that while the ‘Paryushan’ parva was observed in the past, no demands on the restriction of non-vegetarian items was ever made.
“Those insisting on this now [the Jain community] will risk cutting them off the mainstream. This is a form of fundamentalism,” the edit said.
“Non-violence cannot be expressed only through food, but has to be practiced through deeds. While many traders and industrialists are Jains, are their employees happy? Will they declare that they will not take black money during this season,” asked the edit, warning that the Jains’ persistence on the ban of meat during the Paryushan period could have serious social repercussions.
Mr. Thackeray’s party has accused the BJP of imposing the ban with a view to pleasing the Jain community, especially in the Mira-Bhayander Corporation where the community has a significant presence.