An editorial in the September edition of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s monthly magazine, Gosampada, has admonished Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not doing enough to protect cows while praising Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for his efforts to open cow shelters across his state.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is a cultural body that is part of the Sangh Parivar, the family of Hindutva organsations that includes the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The editorial criticised Modi for failing to persuade the Defence Ministry not to shut down its British-era military cattle farms despite being a “gau bhakt” or cow worshipper.

Army’s dairy farms

The Defence Ministry runs 39 cattle farms in Army cantonments around the country. The facilities were started nearly 130 years ago to supply the military with milk products. In August, the ministry announced that it would shut the farms by the end of October as part of an exercise to reduce expenditure on the Army’s non-combat activities.

The Defence Ministry is reportedly trying to frame a plan with the Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries to ensure the smooth closure of these farms.

But the editorial written by Devendra Nayak, the editor of Gosampada, urged Modi to intervene to prevent the farms from shutting.

Titled “Modiji kripaya twarit dhyan dijiye” (Modiji, please pay immediate attention), the editorial said: “To prevent accidents caused by stray cattle on highways, Yogiji [as Adityanath is known] has recently issued instructions for the opening up of cow shelters in every district of the state. This pious decision will prove to be a milestone for cow protection.”

Contrasting Adityanath’s efforts with the Defence Ministry’s decision, it said: “Look at the unfortunate decision of the Defence Ministry – an order has been issued to close down all 39 cattle farms of the Army by 15 October 2017. On the one hand pious attempts [are taken] to protect cows and on the other heinous efforts are made to annihilate the cow family.”

The military farms house the Frieswal breed, a cross between the Netherlands’s Holstein Friesian breed and India’s Sahiwal developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research about 30 years ago.

Addressing Modi, the editorial said: “Don’t forget you are also a gau bhakt, and, therefore, it is your sacred duty [to work for the welfare of cows], too. Else, you will be held responsible for this unholy act.”

VHP-Modi ties strained

This isn’t the first sign of strained ties between the VHP and the BJP. Earlier this month, the VHP’s international working president Pravin Togadia expressed his unhappiness with the Union government on its inability to move ahead with its promise to build a temple at the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya.

In recent months, VHP has been bringing in truckloads of stones to a workshop at its headquarters of Karsevakpuram in the temple town of Ayodhya, which Hindus believe is the birthplace of the deity Ram. At this workshop, artisans carve the stones and pillars intended to be fitted into the temple the Sangh Parivar hopes to construct at the spot the 464-year-old Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

“It is up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to choose if they want to stay with Ram or with Babur,” he had said during a seminar in Agra on September 5.