NEW DELHI: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliate the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have reacted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on cow vigilantes working as anti-social elements in the dead of night.

The VHP’s Braj region’s vice-president Sunil Parashar said “people would not spare Modiji for his remark and BJP would not be able to come in power again in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls”.

“The Prime Minster has hurt the sentiments of gau rakshaks and he will have to pay for it in next Lok Sabha polls,” he said. “Our gau rakshaks are sacrificing their lives to save cows and Modi ji has termed them as criminals, who run shops… This is not fair and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad condemns this statement,” he added.

Parasher then cautioned PM Modi from getting too friendly with Pakistan, saying this would “cost him the Centre’s chair”.

More significantly, the VHPs Gujarat unit issued an unsigned statement stating “Thousands of butchers killing one lakh cows every year are not termed ‘goondas’ and gau rakshaks like Gita Rambhiya (who was killed in Ahmedabad several years ago) are termed ‘goondas’… This shows your change of heart.”

VHP functionary in charge of the Gau Raksha Cell, Hukum Singh, echoed the above in a statement to the Hindustan Times. “What he has said is not for us. We have been in this (cow protection) since the time Modi was not even in the BJP. So this vigilantism charge does not apply to us but those unlawful organisations that have set up shop to carry out their illegal activities,” Singh said.

PM Modi has thus, fallen midway again with his remarks against cow vigilantes not being seen as enough by the opposition and others and yet drawing heavy attack from the extreme right organisations that have also threatened him with defeat in the 2019 general elections.

A fringe outfit, Hindu Mahasabha, launched a vitriolic attack on the PM with Ashok Sharma, its national vice president maintaining, “Modi has turned out to be a carbon copy of the Congress... He has gone back on everything he assured, from Ram Temple to abrogating Article 370 and is now turning his back to cows, he is misleading us.” He said he would conduct a yagna at the organisation’s Meerut office to help PM Modi “regain his senses.”

In Aligarh the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha came out to stage a protest against the PM. Pooja Shakun Pandey, the Hindu Mahasabha chief in Aligarh, said: “Modi should tell people who run shops in the name of cow protection? He had lured people in the name of cow protection to get votes.”. The group’s General Secretary Munna Kumar Sharma criticised PM Modi’s address, saying that a majority of gau rakshaks are criminals is absolutely false, and that even though the BJP said ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls that they will work to bring cow slaughter to an end, it has only increased since PM Modi came to power. Read the full report here.

Similarly, Shakaracharya of Kashi Sumeru Peeth, Swami Narendranand Saraswati on Sunday condemned PM Modi’s remarks. “The Prime Minister’s statement has somewhere financially benefitted the persons who kill cows. Can’t the Prime Minister see that cow meat is being sold in the five-star hotels of Delhi? The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Gau Samvardhan Parishad and the Sangh talked the most about cow protection….So, are the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bajrang Dal running shops all these while?” Saraswati told ANI.

“Air and milk are being pumped into the breasts of cows in Punjab…can’t the Prime Minister see this? On one hand, his conscience says that the slaughter houses won’t be closed and now the Prime Minister says shops in the name of cow protection should be closed. This is a nation of the cows and they should be protected. If someone does anything wrong, then action should be initiated,” Saraswati said. “The statement of the Prime Minister is objectionable and it is giving encouragement to killing of cows. The protectors of cows don’t run shops, they sacrifice their lives for the protection of cows,” he added.

The RSS, whilst supporting the PM, added the caveat that cow protection today was more important that ever. “RSS appeals to all citizens that they should not link these condemnable efforts of a few opportunists with those devoted to the pious work of serving and protecting cows and expose them… We also request the state governments to take strict action against such elements and not let the good work of gau raksha and gau sewa," RSS General Secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said.