Lucknow: The Congress in Uttar Pradesh seems ready to corner the Yogi Adityanath government on its ‘pet’ issue with the party launching a foot march Saturday to save cows in the state.
The padyatra will begin from Lalitpur district in Bundelkhand and will culminate in Chitrakoot.
This comes days after Congress’ UP East in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote to CM Yogi Adityanath about the plight of gaushalas (cowsheds) in the state and also deaths of several cows at a gaushala.
Sources in the Congress told ThePrint it was after Priyanka’s letter that the party drew up the plan to highlight the issue.
The foot march will be carried out under the leadership of UP Congress president Ajay Lallu. The yatra will depart from Saujana Gaushala in Lalitpur and will pass through all the districts of Bundelkhand before ending on the banks of the Mandakini river in Chitrakoot.
According to Congress’s UP Organisation Secretary Anil Yadav, there have been numerous reports of deaths of more than a dozen cows at Saujana Gaushala as the animals have been living under pathetic conditions there in the absence of food and proper care. The condition of cows in other cowsheds is also pitiable, he said.
Yadav said this is the reason why the party has planned to begin the yatra from Saujana cowshed. He said that from Saujana, the dead cows’ last remains will be carried to immerse them in the Mandakini river in Chitrakoot.
The Congress leader also said the yatra has been named ‘Gai Bachao, Kisan Bachao Yatra (Save Cow, Save Farmer March)’ because cows are an integral part of the rural economy in Bundelkhand.
“Farmers in the region are in dire straits. The state government has not been able to find an amicable solution related to the issue of stray cattle. In such a situation, the issue of farmers and cows is inter-connected and that’s why the yatra has been named Gai Bachao, Kisan Bachao Yatra,” he added.
Former Union minister and Congress leader Pradeep Jain Aditya issued a statement on 20 December, saying cows are not being treated properly in Saujana town in Lalitpur.
“Here the cows are neither getting proper fodder and water nor have bonfires been arranged to protect them from cold. Numerous cows are dying in the old gaushala, and their carcasses are being buried in the new one,” he stated.
Take cue from Chhattisgarh cow scheme: Priyanka to Yogi
In her letter to CM Adityanath on 22 December, Priyanka wrote that she was extremely pained after seeing images of cow carcasses from Saujana cowshed.
She said although there are no details yet regarding the exact cause of the death of so many cows at the cowshed, from the images it appears that most of the deaths occurred due to lack of fodder and water.
She further said the Congress government in Chhattisgarh has handled this issue much better by implementing the ‘Godhan Nyaya Yojana’, and the UP government should take a cue from the scheme.
Earlier, many officials from the UP Congress were sent on a tour to Chhattisgarh to study this scheme. Congress sources also said the party is likely to include this scheme in its election manifesto for the 2022 UP polls.
‘Congress paying respect to cows because of Modi ji, Yogi ji‘
According to UP Congress spokesperson Anshu Awasthi, both farmers and cows have been in grave danger since the formation of the BJP government.
“The protests being carried out by the farmers against the farm laws are visible to everyone. In UP, the issue of stray cattle and the pathetic condition of gaushalas are also huge, but there is absolutely no attention of the government on it. The government has only spread propaganda in the name of gauseva (service for cows),” he said.
UP BJP spokesperson Dilip Srivastava, meanwhile, questioned the Congress’ yatra saying that they did not even consider cows as their mother earlier.
“At least, now they have started paying respect to cows due to efforts being made by Modi ji and Yogi ji. Anyone can make plans for any kind of yatra, but the farmers are completely in support of the BJP,” he told ThePrint.