The tourism minister appears to be backtracking on his statement that people in Goa, Kerala are free to eat beef and says tourists who want some should eat it before they come.
New Delhi: Less than a week after Union minister of state for tourism and information technology K.J. Alphons said the BJP has no problem with people in Kerala eating beef, he has disowned those remarks and added that foreigners should eat beef in their own country and only then come to India.
“They (tourists) can eat beef in their own country and come here,” Alphons said when asked if the beef ban in some states may hit the hospitality sector.
Alphons was inducted into the Narendra Modi-led cabinet on September 3 and made the Union tourism minister. A former IAS officer, he served as an independent member of the Kerala assembly from Kanjirappally from 2006 to 2011.
The day after the cabinet reshuffle, on his first day in office, Alphons said that he would act as a bridge between the Christian community and the BJP, and added that the Modi government “doesn’t really have a problem” with people eating beef in Kerala and Goa. “In Goa, ruled by BJP, people continue to eat beef. Kerala will also continue to eat beef, BJP doesn’t really have a problem with that,” he said, adding that there was no “food code” for states. “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,” he said.
His comments today, however, suggest he’s had a change of heart about the existence of a food code. Asked by reporters to square his ‘travel advisory’ that tourists wanting to eat beef in India should do so before arrival with his earlier statements about beef eating in Kerala and Goa, he suggested this was “a cock and bull story”. Asked for a second time to clarify, he said that he was the tourism minister and not the food minister:
Alphons isn’t the first BJP leader who has had to quickly backtrack after speaking out in favour of the right to eat beef. In May 2015, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said the media had “twisted” his words after reports that he had talked about eating beef himself at a press conference in Aizawl .
Rijiju was asked at the press conference whether all Mizos and other northeastern people who eat beef have to go to Pakistan, as a senior BJP leader had advised. “To calm down the situation, I had the responsibility as a Union minister whereby I gave a hypothetical example of myself that I am from Arunachal Pradesh and if I have a particular food habit, no one can stop. It was totally uncalled for to make that hypothetical example as headline thereby making it sound as if I consume beef in real life and challenge the other communities to stop me. Even if nobody in my family consumes beef, it is our choice,” he said in a statement after reports quoted him as saying he ate beef too.
“It has created an unnecessary controversy. I am contemplating to issue a legal notice to the concerned newspaper for making the wrong news headline which resulted in conveying a wrong message to readers. The news headline was completely out of context and wholly twisted the meaning,” Rijiju had said.
(With PTI inputs)