Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Sunday said the cow was a symbol of faith and not politics, and its protection and conservation were top priorities for his government. “Gaumata [cow] is a symbol of faith and pride for us,” the Congress leader tweeted.

The chief minister announced that his government had decided to open 1,000 cow shelters in the state. “We can’t see it suffering on the streets,” he added.

Nath thanked Union Minister of State for Animal Husbandry Pratap Sarangi for praising the Madhya Pradesh government for its initiative to open the cow shelters. Sarangi had made the remarks at an event in Bhopal on Saturday, reported The Indian Express. “Many prominent sages have also praised this decision of the government,” Nath claimed. “This gives inspiration to do more work for the preservation of gaumata in future.”

Earlier in the day, Nath’s party colleague and Congress parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor said faith was not a monolith, and told his party that offering voters some sort of “Hindutva Lite” would not aid its revival in the Hindi heartland.

“You are free to choose what set of beliefs you believe in, which manifestations of the divine you choose to worship and on what days, which of multiple sacred books to choose from, what convictions you would like to hold dear, and ultimately, equally free to reject any assumptions or requirements that do not sit well with your worldview,” Tharoor told PTI in an interview.

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