The Bharatiya Janata Party over the weekend has indicated that its call for a ban on beef is not applicable for states in the country’s North-East, reported Hindustan Times. Party leaders in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland said the recent crackdown on meat shops and slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh would not be replicated in the three north-eastern states that will go to the polls in 2018. Beef is a regular part of people’s diets in these states, where a majority of the population is Christian.

David Kharsati, general secretary of BJP’s Meghalaya unit, issued a statement on Sunday saying “groups with vested interest” were spreading rumours about such a ban for political gains. The party chief in Nagaland also said that such a ban would never be imposed in the northeastern states. “A ban on cow slaughter like the one in UP won’t take effect in Nagaland if our party comes to power next year,” Visasolie Lhoungu said. “The reality here is very different and our central leaders are aware of that.”

Mizoram’s BJP chief JV Hluna said, “There will be no ban on cow slaughter in Mizoram and other states in the region where there is a majority Christian population.”

While the Congress is in power in Meghalaya and Mizoram, the Nagaland government is led by the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, of which the BJP is an alliance partner.

Meat shops and illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh have been raided and shut down after Adtiyanath became the chief minister of the state on March 17. The BJP won 325 seats in the 403-member UP Assembly in the recently concluded elections.