New Delhi: If ‘halal’ isn’t a ‘quality certificate’ and is given for religious reasons, the question arises whether secular people can support it, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary and senior leader from Karnataka C.T. Ravi has said.
Ravi’s comments come days after a controversy broke out in Karnataka over the ‘halal meat’ issue, which led to the BJP government issuing an order directing all slaughterhouses and chicken shops in Bengaluru to ensure that animals are “stunned” mandatorily before slaughter.
“There is a need to initiate a debate. Many are not even aware in the country who exactly is issuing these certificates. Even I am not aware,” Ravi said in an interview with ThePrint.
“If it is a quality certificate, then it is fine. Then it can be implemented in other places. If it is not a quality certificate, if it is being issued because of mazhab (religion), can secular people give it support?” he added. “Is halal a secular certificate? Is it? I have no idea. If halal is a secular certificate then everyone can issue halal certificates. The Congress can also be given halal certificates then.”
In the interview, Ravi spoke at length about allegations that the BJP is trying to create a communal wedge. He also discussed the demand from some Hindutva organisations for restricting the use of loudspeakers for azaan, the Islamic call to prayer.
With Karnataka due to hold assembly elections by May 2023, Ravi said the BJP is confident of winning more than 150 seats in the 224-member House.
‘Is it an FSSAI certificate’?
Ravi — who called the halal meat business a kind of “economic jihad” last week — denied allegations levelled by the Congress that the BJP is trying to create a rift between communities using the controversy.
“That’s not true. What is halal? I am asking this question and initiating a debate on it. Is it a quality certificate? Who is issuing it? When did it start?”
“Is it an FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) certificate? Is it an ISI (Indian Standards Institute) certificate? Is it regarding quality? Who is the authority that is issuing these certificates? Is the Government of India issuing these certificates or the Karnataka government? Where is the lab if certification is being issued? I have started a debate. I have asked certain questions. Is it wrong to ask questions in a democracy?” he asked.
‘No discrimination based on religion’ in azaan issue
After the halal meat controversy, a number of Hindutva organisations in Karnataka, including the Bajrang Dal and the Sri Ram Sene, have called for a ban on loudspeakers in mosques. Reacting to this, Ravi said that while many are giving it a religious colour, it’s the courts that have given directions to the government regarding it.
“The environment department has given certain directions and rules. How much should the decibel level be, what should be the limit of the loudspeaker, till what time are they permissible. Whether it’s Hindus, Muslims, or Christians, it is being implemented for all,” he added. “There is no discrimination based on religion, whether for or against. It’s not only azaan, even bhajans can’t be played very loudly (there’s a certain decibel level to be maintained),” he said.
“What you guys (the media and the Opposition) are doing is showcasing it as being against azaan. But this is also against bhajans. There are a number of judgments regarding this particular issue. Both the high court and the Supreme Court (SC) have given judgments on this,” he added.
Ravi said “everyone is equal and the Constitution and the SC are equal for all”.
“It is neither in favour of a particular religion nor against. Special permission can be given by the authorities, but if that permission is not given, then if people demand that we should implement the SC order, is it wrong? Is it against secularism? Is this calling for creating a rift in society? If we are saying that the SC judgment should be implemented, why are we linking it to creating a rift in society?” he added.
“The SC has given the judgment and to implement it — equally for all, without creating divisions due to religion — we simply want that,” he said.
Ravi claimed that it is some Congress leaders who are using religion to break society and create a rift. “This is wrong. The judgment is equal for all,” he said.
The BJP leader further said that while some people are claiming that loudspeakers have been there for quite some time and are linked to their religion, the technology for this could not be much more than 100 years old.
“When did mic technology come? I’m not aware. It must have been 100 years ago, or so. This technology was not there before that. It is important to understand that mics have been used only after this technology was introduced, but what about before that? So there is a need to have a debate in society regarding this,” he added.
With the assembly elections in the state set to take place next year, Ravi claimed that the party is confident of winning over 150 seats.
“Elections are due after one year. [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi ji’s name and work is everywhere in the country, and the state government is also doing good work. We will definitely cross 150 this time — we are sure of that,” he said.
“Amitbhai ji [Home Minister Amit Shah] has given certain directions as to how we should work on the ground. We will implement it. We will highlight the name and work of Modi ji and the work done by our state government. We will come to power for sure,” he added.
In November last year, the Karnataka BJP held a ‘Jan Swaraj Yatra’ with four teams led by senior party leaders B.S. Yediyurappa, K.S. Eshwarappa, Jagadish Shettar and Nalin Kumar Kateel to mobilise grassroots workers.
“He (former CM Yediyurappa) is still capable. He has given complete yogdaan (support) to the party. The party will make full use of his political acumen. He is making all efforts to ensure that the BJP wins the assembly elections,” said Ravi.
Dismissing the claims of the Congress that the party will be able to come to power this time, Ravi said it will meet the same fate as it did in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, concluded last month.
“Some Congress leaders are daydreaming, but they won’t be able to come to power in 2023. Just think about it. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress contested 399 seats, and in 387 seats, they had to forfeit their deposits. Even in Karnataka, the Congress will face the same situation, and its candidates will have to forfeit their deposits. That’s the atmosphere in the state,” he said.
Commenting on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its induction of former Bengaluru Police commissioner Bhaskar Rao this week, Ravi said “some parties are not present on the ground, but are able to create a lot of noise”.
He added that in the assembly elections in five states this year, the AAP had done badly in all the states apart from Punjab.
“In Uttar Pradesh, many of its candidates had to forfeit their deposits. In Uttarakhand, 90 per cent of the candidates had to forfeit their deposits. In Goa, they contested 39 seats, and had to forfeit their deposits in 35,” he claimed.
“Everyone is free to choose and become part of any party. The Constitution has given such an opportunity,” he said.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)