September 8, 2017
Union Tourism Minister K J Alphons has kicked off a row by saying that foreign tourists were free to eat beef in their own countries and then come to India.
Praveen Shekhar | Posted by Ankit Misra
Newly sworn-in Union Minister K J Alphons has kicked off a controversy by saying that foreign tourists were free to eat beef in their own countries and then come to India.
The Union Minister made these remarks after he was asked how cow vigilantism and restrictions on beef consumption in several states had affected India’s hospitality sector.
Alphons was speaking on the sidelines of the 33rd annual convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) in Odisha’s capital city Bhubaneswar. In response to a query whether beef ban in several states would dissuade foreign tourists from coming to India, Alphons said that restriction on beef consumption impacting tourists in a cock and bull story. “They (foreign tourists) can consume beef in their respective countries and then come here,” he said.
The statement comes as an embarrassment to the BJP, which has vehemently opposed beef consumption.
ALPHONS NAMED TOURISM MINISTER ON SUNDAY
The minister’s remarks came barely three days after he took over as Minister of State for Tourism.
The 64-year-old bureaucrat-turned-politician from Kerala had earlier this week stated that the Modi government was an inclusive one and consumption of beef was not really a concern in a state like Kerala, which attracts the maximum number of tourists in the country.
“As Goa chief minister, Manohar Parrikar has said that beef will be consumed in the state. Similarly, it will be consumed in Kerala,” Alphons said after taking charge as Tourism Minister.
He also said, “The BJP does not mandate that beef cannot be eaten. We don’t dictate food habits in any place. It is for the people to decide.”
ALPHONS APPOINTED BJP’s MEGHALAYA IN-CHARGE
Alphons has also been appointed BJP’s in-charge for election-bound Meghalaya, which faces polls early next year.
The BJP is hopeful that induction of Alphons in the Union cabinet will help it make significant political gains in a state where Christians constitute a sizeable chunk of the population.
While the BJP-ruled government at the Centre has been strongly against cattle slaughter, there have been widespread protests against its advising against consumption of beef.
It is noteworthy to mention that mob attacks by cow vigilantes have gone up in recent times as many people have been hounded on the mere suspicion of carrying or eating beef.