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BJP stares at farmers’ backlash in UP as cattle destroy crops

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What could be more ironic than the fact that while distressed farmers in the state are clamouring for protection from stray cattle, a problem that has assumed menacing proportions with crops worth crores of rupees being lost due to it, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has set aside an unprecedented over Rs 600 crore for the protection and welfare of cows in the State Budget for 2019-20.

It’s a different matter that top government functionaries mouth sympathies for farmers as Lok Sabha elections are round the corner and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already paid a price in terms of three state governments in the recent polls for ignoring farmers’ issues.
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With the growing trouble among farmers in Uttar Pradesh over stray cattle ruining their harvest, the spectre could result in a possible backlash in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Naturally, there is anxiety in the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership.

Old and abandoned cattle that are being set free because they are no longer of any use, have become a terror for people as they destroy crops and fields and add to the agony of already distressed farmers.

As for the government that had vowed to protect the ‘gau mata’ and banned slaughter houses, it appears to have given farmers a short shrift. The budget also proposes Rs 247.60 crore for maintenance and construction of gaushalas in the rural areas.
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Malkhan Chauhan, a small farmer in Darveshpur (Barabanki), some 55 km from here, told IANS how his 3-bigha farm land had been devastated by stray cattle. “I spent a lot of money for seeds and fertilisers, and now the cattle menace have forced me to shell out another Rs 10,000 to fence the field to protect the crop,” said an upset Chauhan.

A frustrated Ranjeet Maurya (40) in neighbouring Kanhaipur who lost his crop to the menace criticised the Yogi Adityanath government for his troubles. “Yogi ordered closure of slaughter houses, now see what’s happening,” he said and added cow vigilantes and Hindu outfits should “adopt ten cows each”. Crops of potato, wheat and mustard have been destroyed by the stray bulls and cows in his village, he said.

Many cattle has also been abandoned due to growing mechanisation of farming. Rizwan Ahmad, a dairy owner in Hariharnagar, said once the cows go dry (stop giving milk) they are thrown out by farmers. “What else do we do of them?” he asked.

Many Muslim milk sellers like Ahmad Ali, a dairy owner in Chinhat, said his community is scared. “We hear stories about members of the community being roughed up for transporting cows,” he said. They can neither keep a large number of animals nor abandon them, he added.

That the cattle menace has taken centre-stage for many farmers can be gauged from the fact that in many parts of the state, angry farmers have locked up cattle in schools, hospitals, community health centres. Their demand: fix this menace. Their threat: face music at the hustings.
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The government has expedited building cattle shelters and ‘gau shaalas’ but the bureaucratic inertia seems to have retarded the pace. Thus the state missed the January 10 deadline set by the Chief Minister Adityanath for district magistrates to shift stray cattle to these shelters. Penal action has also been sought against cattle owners who abandon or lock them up in public properties.

“The chief minister is serious about the issue. Many steps are being taken to tackle the problem”, additional chief secretary (Information) Awanish Kumar Awasthi told IANS.

There are 510 registered cow shelters in the state. According to a 2012 government data, there were around two crore cows in the state. Adityanath has also called for a fresh census and allocated funds for that.

Animal Husbandry Minister S.P. Singh Baghel agrees that there is a problem, but claimed “a solution is on the way”. However, he pointed out that the number of stray cattle was also a reflection of the staggering number that was being slaughtered before the ban.”

Samajwadi Party (SP) spokesman Abdul Hafiz Gandhi said the BJP government has “misplaced priorities” and predicted that farmers’ anger “would cost them dear” in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The state government has also levied a 0.5 per cent tax Cow Protection Cess on eight government departments, including the cash-rich excise department.

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Priyanka Chopra enters prep mode for ‘Text For You’

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Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas has started preparation for her next romantic drama, tentatively titled Text For You, co-starring Grammy-winner Celine Dion and actor Sam Heughan. Through her Instagram Stories, Priyanka also revealed that she will start shooting for the project on Friday.

She shared several pictures from her prep mode, in which she is seen getting her hair and nails done before she begins work. The photographs showed Priyanka wearing a mask while getting a manicure. Her hair is covered in plastic sheets, hinting at new hair colour. “Prep… starting text for you on Friday,” she wrote with the photos.

Written and directed by Jim Strouse, the film is an English remake of the German-language film “SMS Fur Dich”, based on Sofie Cramer’s novel.

According to the storyline, Priyanka’s character is a heartbroken woman who has just lost her fiance. In her attempt to send constant messages to her fiance’s old number, she will connect with a man across town suffering from a similar heartbreak. Celine Dion’s music aims at connecting the two and give them the courage to take a second shot at love.

Heughan is best known for his role as an actor and producer in the hit series “Outlander”. He was recently seen in the Vin Diesel-starrer comicbook flick “Bloodshot” and in the action comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me”, co-starring Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux and Gillian Anderson.

Priyanka will next be seen in the film adaptation of “The White Tiger”, which she has also executive produced, and “We Can Be Heroes”, directed by Robert Rodriguez. She is currently developing an untitled comedy with Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor, and also working on Russo Brothers’ “Citadel” and “The Matrix 4”.

Meanwhile, Priyanka Chopra Jonas said that her upbringing has played a crucial role in shaping her personality.

“I am a product of traditional India and its ancient wisdom, and modern India and its urban bustle. My upbringing was always an amalgamation of the two Indias and, just as much, of East and West,” she said.

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