New Delhi, Oct 11: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday addressed an event in Nagpur on the occassion of Dussehra. In his speech, Bhagwat glorified the gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes), crediting them for protecting bovine animals from cruelty. Exalting the work of gau rakshaks, Bhagwat said, “Cow is our mother. The gau rakshaks are striving hard to protect cows from slaughter. These gau rakshaks are good people who are holding up the law of the land which prevents the slaughter of cows. The Directive Principles of State Policy demands protection of cows.” The remarks made by Mohan Bhagwat affirms the fact that RSS is strongly behind the cow vigilante groups working under the saffron umbrella, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling “75-80 per cent” of them as thugs.Also Read - UP Elections 2022: This Is How Akhilesh Yadav Is Planning To Become CM, His Winning Strategies Revealed

The statements of Mohan Bhagwat makes one recall the contentious remarks he allegedly made in relation to caste-based reservation ahead of the Bihar assembly elections. Bhagwat had reportedly suggested a review of current system of caste-based job quotas. Although, he later clarified that RSS does not want to exclude any caste from the current list of beneficiaries, the damage had already been done in the then poll-bound state of Bihar. BJP ally Jitan Ram Manjhi openly condemned the remarks and had attributed it for the loss of NDA in Bihar. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav had left no stone unturned to reap political benefits out of the remarks made by Bhagwat. Analysts claim that the remarks of Bhagwat played a key role in polarizing a major section of Dalit and OBC voters towards the Nitish Kumar-led Mahagathbandhan. Also Read - UP Assembly Election 2022: Swami Prasad Maurya Leaves BJP, Joins Samajwadi Party, Know Which Politicians Left Their Parties To Join Other Parties

The comments of Mohan Bhagwat in relation to gau rakshaks could place BJP in a tough-position in the poll-bound state of Uttar Pradesh, where party chief Amit Shah has launched a vigorous programme to reach out to the Dalit section of electorate. BJP has already been left red-faced due to the Dalit revolt in Gujarat, which began after the incident of cow vigilantism in Una. In Mota Samadhiyala village, four Dalit youths were mercilessly beaten up by gau rakshaks in August. The Dalits had not slaughtered any bovine animal, but were found with cow carcass, which they were about to decompose after skinning it. (ALSO READ: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat hails Indian Army on Dussehra; ditches Khaki shorts for trousers, but defends ‘gau-rakshaks’) Also Read - Who Will Get Absolute Majority in Punjab? Zee News Opinion Poll Coming Soon

Dalits in Una district had subsequently boycotted their traditional occupation of skinning cows, leaving cow carcasses to decay in the open. Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani had lashed out at BJP and RSS, accusing them of targeting Muslims and Dalits in Gujarat. (ALSO READ: Una flogging: Dalits begin ‘Asmita Yatra’ in Gujarat, seek justice)

In what appeared to be an attempt to curb the growing Dalit unrest across the nation, Prime Minister Modi broke his silence and lashed out at gau rakshaks. Calling them anti-social, Modi had said, “This rages me that a large number of thugs, take over the mask of gau rakshaks in the night and harass people… I urge them not to target my Dalit brothers. I urge them to come and shoot me, but spare my Dalit brothers.” Modi had further instructed state governments to prepare a dossier against those indulging in hooliganism in the name of gau raksha, and take action accordingly. (ALSO READ: Corporates getting land, not farmers: Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani mocks Gujarat model of development)

Dalits form an influential 20-21 per cent of the population and has largely sided with Mayawati. However, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, large number of Dalits opted for the Narendra Modi-led revamped BJP. The party has recently adopted BSP ideologue Kanshi Ram as one of its heroes, in order to send out a positive message to the Dalit community. (ALSO READ: Gau Raksha in Punjab: Dairy farmers allegedly harassed by Shiv Sena affiliated cow vigilantes)

Apart from damaging the poll prospects for BJP in UP, the remarks of Mohan Bhagwat will further agitate the Dalits of of Gujarat who have stood up in revolt.

Apart from Dalits in both the states, farmers in poll-bound Punjab have also complained against the hooliganism of cow vigilantes, accusing them of running extortion racket in the state. The farmers claim that gau rakshaks are active not with the intention of preventing cow slaughter, but earning hefty amounts from cattle-traders who are operating legally.