New Delhi: Ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent out a warning to cow vigilantes on Sunday, saying strict action will be taken against those who are indulging in violence.
Addressing an all-party meeting called by parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar, Modi urged state governments to do the same.
“The PM said that all governments should take stringent action against those who are violating law in the name of cow protection. The Prime Minister also underlined the belief of many Hindus that cow is like mother, but said that this should not let people take law in their own hands and every state government should act against violation of the law,” Kumar told reporters after the meeting.
On the first day of the monsoon session on Monday, voting for the presidential elections will also take place. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has named former Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind as its candidate while opposition parties have nominated former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar as theirs.
During the meeting, Modi said a high level of dignity has been maintained by the government and opposition in the run-up to the election. He urged political parties to ensure that everybody votes.
“The president elections this time is historic. For the first time, there were no unnecessary comments made by any side regarding the other candidate nor were there any statements made. All parties have maintained the dignity of the election. It is what our democracy stands for. We now need to ensure that not a single vote is wasted,” Modi said.
An electoral college comprising members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and state legislative assemblies will elect the president, and the results will be announced on Thursday.
Non-NDA parties supporting the NDA candidate include the Janata Dal (United), Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
Meira Kumar’s candidature has the support of opposition parties including the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Modi’s comments come a day before the monsoon session of Parliament convenes where opposition parties have planned to raise the issue of cow vigilantism, stand-off with China and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Later in the day opposition parties also held a meeting chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi who appealed to the leaders present to support the opposition’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates Meira Kumar and Gopalkrishna Gandhi respectively.
“The president and vice-president are the constitutional heads of state. They are entrusted to discharge the duties of their offices in a manner that preserves, protects and defends both the Constitution and the law. Both of these are, sadly, under siege today. We must ensure, therefore, that the best minds and the best servants of India stand at the helm,” she said at the meeting.
“If the government thinks that elimination and guns are the only ways to curb tension in Kashmir, we are not with them. The Congress party is not in favour of stalling the proceedings of Parliament, but we are forced to do so when the government does not agree to our genuine demands,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
Azad said opposition parties are also likely to raise the issue of the recent farmer suicides in Madhya Pradesh, floods in Assam and implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).
The meeting was attended by members of various political parties including the Congress, CPM, Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party. However, the Trinamool Congress skipped the meeting as it blames the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for the recent communal violence in West Bengal and Gorkha agitation in Darjeeling.
Modi thanked parties for supporting GST and called it a shining example of cooperative federalism. He also said that the government had started a fight against corruption which other political parties should join in.
This is the second all-party meeting called by the government ahead of the monsoon session. The earlier one, on Friday, was called to brief the opposition on the stand-off between India and China and about the Jammu and Kashmir situation, especially the attack on Amarnath pilgrims.
The Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) did not attend the all-party meeting or the opposition parties meeting, citing a busy schedule.
“Sharadji (Sharada Yadav) and other MPs are busy; so we could not attend the all-party meeting called by government. We are not boycotting it,” said K.C. Tyagi, spokesperson of JD(U).