The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Meghalaya unit chief Ernest Mawrie has said that there was no restriction on consuming beef in the state and that he too eats it, ANI reported on Thursday.

“There is no ban [on eating beef] in Meghalaya,” he told ANI. “It is the lifestyle of the people, no one can stop it. There is no such rule in India also. Some states have passed some acts. In Meghalaya, we have a slaughterhouse, everybody takes a cow or pig and brings it to the market. It could be a hygienic one. So the people they have the habit.”

The statement assumes importance as several BJP-ruled states have passed stringent laws to ban cow slaughter. In the northeastern state of Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been appealing to the residents to restrict eating beef in Hindu-majority areas.

The states of the North East have large tribal and Christian populations – residents whose food habits are vastly different from those in the Indian mainland. Cow slaughter is not banned in Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura.

In an interview to ANI, Mawrie, however, rejected allegations that the BJP was anti-Christian.

“Now the nine years of the National Democratic Alliance government is running in the country and not even any church has been attacked or targeted in the country,” he claimed. “Opposition political party’s allegation that BJP is an anti-Christian party, is just election propaganda. We are in Meghalaya – a Christian-dominated state, and everybody goes to Church.”

He added: “I am also a Christian and they never tell me not to go to Church.”

On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally being denied permission at the PA Sangma stadium in Tura, the BJP chief told The Indian Express in a separate interview that it was a “big insult”. He said that the stadium was funded by the Union government.

“Also, in no part of the compound or premise is it mentioned that the project was funded by the Centre under PM Modi,” he claimed. “It’s only Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s name, his sister Agatha’s name and brother James’s name everywhere.”

Modi was scheduled to address a poll rally at the PA Sangma Sports Complex on February 24. The Meghalaya government has claimed that it had no role in denying permission.

The BJP chief also asserted that BJP will form the next government in Meghalaya.

“This time the people of Meghalaya want a change,” Mawrie told ANI. “As per our survey, we will get the magic number in double-digits and form the government.”

The 60-member Assembly polls in Meghalaya are going to be held on February 27.