The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has decided to set up a separate "cabinet" for the protection and promotion of the cow, and its members will be drawn from multiple departments, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced on Wednesday.
The maiden meeting of the "gau cabinet", said to be the first such body in the country which will have the chief minister among its members, will be held on November 22. The meeting will take place at a cow sanctuary.
"It has been decided to constitute a 'gau cabinet' for the protection and fostering of 'godhan' (cow and its progeny) in the state," Chouhan tweeted in Hindi.
Reacting to the decision, the Opposition Congress said it falls short of the BJP's 2018 pre-poll promise of creating a separate cow ministry.
Ministers of Animal Husbandry, Forest, Panchayat and Rural Development, Revenue, Home and Farmers' Welfare departments will be part of this cabinet, the CM said.
"The first meeting will be held at 12 noon on November 22 to mark Gopashtami at Gau Sanctuary in Agar Malwa district," he added.
Necessary orders for the constitution of the cow cabinet have been issued, officials said.
Besides Chouhan, the cabinet will include Home Minister Narottam Mishra, Forest Minister Vijay Shah, Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel, Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Mahendra Singh Sisodia and Minister for Animal Husbandry Prem Singh Patel.
Six departments will execute the decisions of the gau-cabinet in a coordinated manner, Chouhan said in a statement later.
An action plan will be implemented for increasing the use of cow dung cakes ('kanda'). The making and marketing of Gau-Kasht (cow-wood) is being encouraged at present, similarly efforts will be made to market other products made from cow milk, he said.
"It can be termed as the first cow cabinet in the nation as I am not sure whether or not such a cabinet exists in any other state. I have not heard about such a cabinet anywhere in the country so far," Principal Secretary (Animal Husbandry Department) J N Kansotia said.
According to the website of state-run Gaupalan Evam Pashudhan Samvardhan Board, Madhya Pradesh currently has 625 active gaushalas (shelters) housing 1,66,967 cows and their progenies.
State Congress president Kamal Nath said Chouhan did not keep his promise made before the 2018 Assembly elections.
"Shivraj Singh, who announced the formation of a separate cow ministry (department) in the state before the 2018 assembly elections, is now talking about setting up a cabinet for cow protection and fostering," he said.
He has forgotten his old announcement, the former chief minister said.
"There has been no work for cow protection and promotion during the 15 years' BJP rule in the state. On the contrary, they reduced the money given for cow shelters," Nath said, adding under him the erstwhile Congress government had started the work on construction of 1,000 cow shelters.
Home Minister Mishra countered, saying the Nath government only talked about building cow shelters during its 15-month rule, but was not able to set up even 15 sheds.
"The BJP is nurturing Indian culture. The MP government has set a new example by constituting a gau cabinet," Mishra added.
Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti praised Chouhan for the decision.
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