New Delhi People should be allowed to eat the meat of bulls and bullocks for its high protein, Union minister Ramdas Athawale said on Monday, after
BJP parliamentarian Udit Raj linked sprint legend Usain Bolt’s success to beef.
Both Dalit leaders touched an emotive issue as many states have banned the eating of beef and slaughter of cows, considered sacred in Hinduism, and self-styled cattle protectors have stepped up efforts to impose the prohibition.
Raj, who represents North West Delhi in the Lok Sabha, was trolled for his Twitter post that Jamaican sprinter Bolt won nine Olympic medals because of his beef diet. He clarified later, saying he cited Bolt’s example to suggest athletes should beat adversities and excel, instead of blaming circumstances for their failures.
“Usain Bolt of Jamaica was poor and trainer advised him to eat beef both the times…,” he tweeted, suggesting the champion ate beef twice a day. But “it’s 200% wrong to interpret my comment as an endorsement of beef-eating”, he said afterwards.
Read | Udit Raj, stand up and be counted on the beef debate
Junior social justice minister Athawale agreed “50%” with Raj’s remarks, saying if people want, they should be allowed to eat beef.
“Cow slaughter is already banned … Farmers who have buffaloes, which are aged and unproductive, can at least sell them and earn a livelihood,” said the RPI(A) leader, whose party is an NDA constituent.
Athawale had opposed the Maharashtra government’s decision to ban beef last year.
The majority of Hindus don’t eat beef, but cow and buffalo meat used to be a source of protein for many poor Dalits.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh called Raj’s tweet an “interesting observation” and asked if it was “scientifically proven” that Bolt won nine medals over three Olympics because of beef.
If beef helped Bolt at all is not known, but sports scientists do agree the Jamaican legend is built for speed — owning a kinetic advantage because of his height-weight ratio. Bolt is 1.95metres tall and weighs 94kg; his single stride is 2.44 metres and completes the 100m in 41-42 strides.
“Bolt is a big sports personality and I agree 50% with Udit Raj that eating beef has made him strong and thus he could win medals. But if we see it in a larger perspective, there are sportsmen who do not eat beef or eat just mutton or are simply vegetarians but won awards,” Athawale said.
The two leaders’ remarks have the potential to kick up a row against the BJP-led government, which is already under fire for growing attacks of vigilantes against cattle traders and beef-eaters.
A 55-year-old Muslim man, Mohammad Ikhlaq, was lynched last September on the suspicion of slaughtering a cow for a family feast at Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri, about 50km from New Delhi.
The mob murder triggered nationwide outrage, as did last month’s flogging in Gujarat’s Una, where self-appointed cattle protectors assaulted lower-caste Dalits who make a living out of skinning dead cows.