Bengaluru: Locking horns with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the anti-cow slaughter ordinance, Congress leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah challenged the BS Yediyurappa-led state government to stop him from eating beef.

“I will eat beef if I want to. Nobody can stop me. Who are you to question me? If you don’t eat, leave it, I am not going to force you. This is what I had once said in the assembly,” he said addressing party workers at the 136th foundation day of the Congress here.

He urged Congress workers to spread the message that the party believed in Hindutva that was practised and preached by enlightened souls like Mahatma Gandhi and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

“These leaders never used religion as a tool to achieve their political agenda, but whereas BJP and RSS do it to achieve its political agenda. Congress workers must expose this,” he said.

The Karnataka cabinet on Monday decided to promulgate an ordinance to give effect to the contentious anti-cow slaughter bill that is yet to be approved by the legislative council.

Once it comes into effect, there will be a blanket prohibition of slaughter of cows in the state.

However, slaughter houses will continue to function and beef consumption will not be prohibited with respect to buffalo meat.

The government is also considering building ‘gaushalas’ (cow shelters) to ensure that aged cows that are not used for milching do not become a burden on the farmer.

The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill-2020 bill proposes a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment and fine of Rs five lakh for the offenders.

It seeks a total ban on slaughter of cows in the state and provides for stringent punishment to those who indulge in smuggling, illegal transportation, atrocities on cows and slaughtering them.

The government had to opt for the ordinance route as the Bill passed by the legislative assembly earlier this month in the winter session amid din and stiff opposition from the Congress has not yet been approved by the legislative council

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