India’s meat sector nervous over nationalist party victory

By Raghavendra Verma, in New Delhi

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bharatiya janata party Beef

Beef and buffalo producers fear additional export controls
Beef and buffalo producers fear additional export controls
Beef and buffalo producers and exporters in India are bracing for additional controls after general election exit polls predicted a victory for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party led by Narendra Modi.

"Fear is certainly there,"​ said Mohammed Saleem, managing director of ALM Group, a beef exporter based in Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh), although he admitted that it was highly unlikely the new government would ban the exports of buffalo meat.

Saleem said: "They need not put an official ban [to cause problems] – just bureaucratic hindrances are enough and in India, when the government changes, the bureaucracy automatically changes to their colour."

As an example he said that when his frozen buffalo trucks used to cross the state of Gujarat, where Modi was chief minister, officials used to detain them for days to check if they were carrying cow meat, which is illegal to trade in Gujarat. "It was a big blow for us, as they misused their laws and rules,"​ he said.

Modi has attacked the beef industry during the campaign, but it is not clear what additional controls he might bring in – cow-based beef exports are already banned.

Addressing an election rally in November 2013, Modi claimed the outgoing Congress government was preparing to "earn maximum foreign exchange by exporting cow-meat and therefore it is giving US$8.6m subsidy to every individual who builds a good slaughterhouse".

Modi added: "What is the crime of my mother cow… that you are slaughtering her and selling in the international markets just to earn money?"

Meanwhile, the entire meat industry is worried that the BJP victory will bring vegetarian campaigner Menaka Gandhi into government. Her campaign group, People for Animals, opposes the slaughter of animals for meat and members have even freed livestock from trains and lorries.

Also a campaigner for strict vegetarianism, Gandhi belongs to the same Nehru-Gandhi family that has been heading the Congress party, but joined the opposition BJP party in 2004 and has been a central government minister in the past.

An official from the All India Meat & Livestock Exporters Association told GlobalMeatNews​ he was optimistic: "Better sense will prevail and the situation will be clear within a week [of government assuming office]."

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