Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot has said that tackling crimes against humans should be prioritised over the “cow issue”, The Hindu reported on Sunday. The Congress leader’s comments came a week after three people in Madhya Pradesh, which also has a Congress government, were charged under the National Security Act for allegedly slaughtering cows.

Pilot, who claimed his government would have reacted differently, made the remark at The Hindu Huddle Conclave in Bengaluru, where he was asked how the party was different from the BJP.

“My personal opinion is that we must first make stringent laws for people committing rape, acts of inhumanity against each other, strict laws to prevent people who attack the dignity of fellow human beings,” the Congress leader was quoted as saying.

“It is fine to protect animals that are sacred and I believe in that too, but I think we could have done a better job by prioritising those issues first and then taken on the cow issue,” he added. “I think that for Madhya Pradesh, [Chief Minister] Kamal Nath is the best person to decide on the issue, but for Rajasthan, this is what I feel.”

On Friday, Congress leader P Chidambaram said the Madhya Pradesh government’s decision was wrong. Party chief Rahul Gandhi has told the Kamal Nath government to correct the “mistake”, Chidambaram claimed.

However, the following day, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Congress would not “unwarrantedly interfere” in the matter as law and order is the domain of the chief minister and the state police.

Surjewala said nobody who is innocent would be persecuted or punished in any manner and nobody guilty would be spared. “He [Kamal Nath] is experienced and seasoned enough to see if any officer of the police has made any overreach at the instance of somebody who is previously embedded on behalf of the BJP regime,” he added.

A ‘2004-like’ surprise

Pilot also expressed confidence that the Congress would pull off a “2004-like” surprise in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He said India has been “watching for the last four years, not getting answers to their questions”.

“It won’t be surprising if there is a fall for the mighty BJP as they call themselves,” Pilot said. “There is no way the BJP can hold onto all the seats they won last time.”

Pilot said no allegations of corruption against Congress leaders had been proved, and claimed that the government was ensuring that no one from the BJP is prosecuted in graft cases.