NEW DELHI: The Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh is following closely on the heels of its BJP predecessor, with the National Security Act being evoked to arrest three persons accused for cow slaughter in the communally sensitive Khandwa town.

Khandwa SP Siddharth Bahugana confirmed the use of the draconian law while speaking to the media.The Bharatiya Janta Party's (BJP) government under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had invoked NSA on cow-slaughter charges against at least 22 persons. The new Congress government, not to be left behind, has booked three persons charged with cow slaughter, and attacked by a mob, under NSA already.

After announcing loan waivers for the farmers as per Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s assurance, the Chief Minister has taken up cow protection as a major mission.

The Congress government’s rapid drift to cow and temple politics has not gone unnoticed.

In December after becoming Chief Minister, Kamal Nath signed an order to waive farm loans up to Rs 2 lakhs. His second priority for action was the cow, with his government launching a state wide drive to build at a 1000 gaushalas (cow shelters). The project is estimated to cost Rs. 450/- crores.

‘Project Gaushala” as it has been termed, will take off at the “earliest” as per the Chief Ministers directive. The cow shelters are to provide “relief from stray cattle menace in urban and rural areas. In addition, homeless animals will find shelter. This will also create employment opportunities in rural area,” according to a state official.

Department of Rural Development will be the nodal agency for the Gaushala Project.

The project will be implemented by gram panchayats, self-help groups (SHGs), the institutions empanelled with the State Board for Conservation of Bovine Animals, and the committed organisations selected by district-level committees, according to an official briefing in the state.

Currently, 614 gaushalas are in operation across Madhya Pradesh. These are, however, all privately managed.

The Congress manifesto for Madhya Pradesh for the recently held assembly elections read like a mission statement for Hindutva where it spoke of the commercial production of 'gaumutra' (cow urine) and 'kanda' (cowdung cakes) and setting up 'gaushalas' (cow shelters) in every village panchayat.

It also talked about making arrangements to set up temporary camps on main roads to provide for treatment to injured cows and last rites of dead cows besides a commitment to make available grazing land for cattle.

It also spoke of developing the 'Ram path - a fabled route taken by Lord Ram during his 14 years exile which will be built from Chitrakoot.

The Congress manifesto in Rajasthan also spoke about the development and upkeep of gaushalas.

Earlier last year, Rahul Gandhi declared “the Congress is a party of Hinduism,” but he was quick to add “not of Hindutva”

However, little now appears to separate the two major parties.