The Kerala Assembly on Thursday passed a motion against a notification issued by the Centre imposing restrictions on cattle sale at animal markets for slaughter. O Rajagopal, the Bharatiya Janata Party member in the House, was the only one to oppose the motion moved by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, reported The Hindu.

The ruling Left Democratic Front had convened a special session to take up the motion. The motion got support from the Opposition as well. Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said the central notification was an infringement on the personal freedom of the people to have the food of their choice and urged the government to pass a legislation against the ordinance. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former chief minister VS Achuthanandan, whose party is a part of the ruling coalition, echoed Chennithala’s view.

Rajagopal, however, called the government’s move a misuse of the Assembly. “This stance was quite evident,” he said. “The session was convened for discussing a non-issue to create confusion and concern among the people for reaping cheap political gains.”

The BJP leader further defended the notification and said that it was issued four months ago in compliance with a Supreme Court verdict in the matter. “There was no ban on meat sale,” said Rajagopal. “It was aimed at helping farmers. Though there were opportunities to register opinion against the notification, none has bothered to do it so far. The Centre has clarified that it was open to suggestions and also for amendments too. Still, both fronts were unwilling to accept it and were pursuing it for political gains.”

The Assembly almost unanimously passed the motion on Thursday, though the Kerala High Court had on Wednesday refused to stay the notification. Earlier, on May 31, the High Court had observed that the new rule did not stop anyone from selling cattle for slaughter outside the cattle market and said there was no order in place that banned the consumption of meat.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will on June 15 hear a plea filed by a Hyderabad-based organisation challenging the notification.

On May 26, the Centre had issued new rules that require cattle traders to give an undertaking that the animals being sold at markets would only be used for agricultural purposes. Several states have massively criticised the notification, including Kerala, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh, among others. There have also been protests against the ban in some parts of the country, including a beef-eating festival organised in IIT-Madras, which led to an assault on a PhD scholar by alleged members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.