Congress, India’s oldest political party, gains a new lease on life

Feb 07, 2019

ARUN SHOURIE, a former cabinet minister and acid-tongued pundit, once dismissed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as “Congress plus a cow”. By equating prime minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalists with their secular rivals, he was implying that, since both of India’s biggest parties share such traits as cronyism and paternalist economics, all that really distinguishes the BJP is its displays of piety, such as reverence for cows.

So it may have come as some surprise to three Muslim residents of Kharkali, a tiny hamlet in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India, when a court on February 4th threw them in jail on suspicion of slaughtering a cow. The surprise was not just that the police had invoked the draconian National Security Act, which allows a year’s detention without charge. It was that while BJP-run states are best known for enforcing “cow protection” laws, Madhya Pradesh is no longer run by the BJP. Two...

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