Updated April 12th, 2024 at 22:01 IST

Beef, Fish And Now Mutton: The Savoury Shift in Lok Sabha Election Campaign

As the Lok Sabha election edges closer, the focus has now shifted to 'what's on the plate', rather than substantive matters at hand.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Beef, Fish And Now Mutton: The Savoury Shift in Lok Sabha Election Campaign | Image:Republic Digital
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New Delhi: With just a week left for the first phase of voting in 102 seats across 21 states and union territories for the Lok Sabha elections, the campaigning fervour has escalated. Seasoned politicians from various parties actively participate in rallies and public engagements, often igniting fresh controversies with each passing day. Despite the apparent calm following the Kangana Ranaut's 'beef consuming' controversy, a new storm brewed with a video surfacing of Tejashwi Yadav relishing fish.  The row intensified when Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the RJD leader, his father Lalu Yadav, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, drawing parallels between INDI leaders' actions and those of the Mughal era. 

"The people of Congress and INDI alliance do not care about the sentiments of the majority of the people of the country. They enjoy playing with the sentiments of the people. A person who has been sentenced by the court and who is on bail visits the house of such a criminal and enjoys cooking mutton in the month of Sawan and they make a video of it to tease the people of the country. The law does not stop anyone from eating anything but the intentions of these people are something else," said PM Modi during the Udhampur rally.

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“When the Mughals attacked Indian regions, they were not satisfied by their victory until they demolished the temples. So just like Mughals, they want to tease the people of the country by showing the video in the month of Sawan,” PM Modi added.

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The Prime Minister made these comments in reference to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's visit to former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Yadav in 2023. During their meeting at Yadav's residence in Delhi, the two leaders had prepared Bihar's renowned "Champaran mutton," the video of which had also gone viral on social media platforms. 
 

The Savoury Shift in Lok Sabha Poll Campaign: How It All Started 

The controversy began with a video circulating of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav eating fish in a helicopter during the Navratri. The video, shared by Yadav on April 9, the first day of Navratri, showed him dining with Mukesh Sahni, chief of the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), while flying in a helicopter. 

In the clip, Tejashwi and Sahni were seen enjoying fish and roti, with the former explaining that he eats quickly during election campaigns. Sahni also made a jibe at their opponents by holding up a chilli, suggesting they might feel “burned” after watching the video. Watch the video below.

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Soon, the Bharatiya Janata Party criticised the RJD leader for what they called “politics of appeasement,” labelling him a “seasonal Sanatani.” Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Kumar Sinha asserted that eating mutton during Shravan and consuming fish during Navratri contradicted the principles of Sanatani Dharma, accusing Prasad of engaging in appeasement politics.

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“They (RJD) are seasonal Sanatanis and they don’t know how to follow the practices of Sanatan Dharma. I have no objection about the food habits of people but consuming mutton during the month of Shravan and having fish in Navratri cannot be the eating practice of a true Sanatani. They are indulging in politics of appeasement by doing all these”, said Sinha in a video message.    

Before this, Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar had claimed that actor-turned-politician Kangana Ranaut had once said that she ate beef. Addressing a rally, Wadettiwar, the leader of opposition in the Maharashtra state assembly, accused Ranaut of admitting in writing that she consumed beef, ‘yet despite this, the BJP had fielded her as a candidate for the Lok Sabha elections’.

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Reacting to the same, BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said, “This reflects Congress’ dirty culture. It cannot fight us on issues. This shows the party’s defeatist mentality.”

Later, Ranaut clarified, “I don’t consume beef or any other kind of red meat. It is shameful that completely baseless rumours are being spread about me. I have been advocating and promoting a yogic and Ayurvedic way of life for decades. Now, such tactics to tarnish my image will not work. My people know me, and they know that I am a proud Hindu and nothing can ever mislead them.”

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Nevertheless, instances of leaders accusing each other and resorting to derogatory remarks are not unprecedented. With election fervour sweeping the nation, several politicians are engaging in discourse that tarnishes the political landscape. Former chief ministers and party leaders, among others, are exchanging accusations in a toxic manner, resorting to sexist insults and unapologetically digging into personal matters, thereby further muddying the political narrative. 

Lok Sabha Elections 2024

The Lok Sabha elections of 2024 are set to take place across India in seven phases. People will cast their votes on April 19, April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25, and June 1. The result of all the phases will be declared on June 4.

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Published April 12th, 2024 at 20:23 IST