The Congress party is walking a tightrope on the issue of cow protection and cow slaughter in Uttar Pradesh.
It plans to corner the Yogi Adityanath government by linking the protection of cows and the abandoning of cattle with issues related to farmers as part of its plan to take on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on cows and nationalism.
The Congress is aware that the BJP has a grip on the Hindu emotion surrounding cows and cattle protection. It is also aware of the BJP's stand on cow slaughter.
The Congress could be going for an attack on the BJP where it hurts — by raising the context of the abandoned cows in the state.
Amid protests of farmers against the Centre's new agriculture reform laws, the Congress has got the opportunity to connect cows and farmers. This would provide it the middle path on a sensitive issue.
It has been reported that the Congress is planning a "mega march" against the BJP, particularly in Adityanath-led UP.
The party could raise its stand against cow slaughter, which, as per its perception, is affecting farmers, as they are compelled to let go and abandon cows that have stopped giving milk, or have diminishing milk output owing to age and other factors.
The Congress is likely to bring focus on changes in agri practices, as also processes related to tilling farms that have undergone change owing to the increasing use of tractors and machinery as issues related to farmers abandoning cows.
The Congress could, however, find itself on tricky territory.
Any stand that seems to justify cow slaughter or indicate a stand against the ban on cow slaughter, could land it in trouble.
Congress, in the past, has faced its shares of dilemmas surrounding the cow in its politics. A cow with a suckling calf was a symbol associated with the party when Indira Gandhi formed the Congress.
The cow-saving sections in politics back then saw her facing different territories on the issue. One was against cow slaughter, which found large support across the country. Risking votes and supporters by favouring cow slaughter was not a choice her party could go for. Risking a "secular" stand for completely supporting the ban on cow slaughter, not a choice, either.
Today, her granddaughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is being looked at by the Congress as the leader's reflection, is looking to find a balance on the issue in UP.
Opposing Adityanath on cow slaughter ban is not easy. Linking the issue with farmers is.
The perception the Congress would likely go for and try to create is that the farmers are compelled to make choices regarding the abandoning of cows owing to the difficulties they are facing in farming.
The party that is likely to be bracketed as a culprit in this context is the Adityanath-led BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
Aspects such as cowsheds, gaushala operators and better upkeep of cows in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh have been mentioned by Vadra.
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