Jains urged not to vote for Shiv Sena, MNS over meat protest

by Web Desk | Updated: 2017-02-09

A WhatsApp message doing the rounds in the Jain community ahead of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections later this month is turning out to be a cause of concern for Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
The message, addressed to “all Jain, Gujarati, Terapanthi, Mandirmargi, Digambar/Sthanakwasis”, calls for defeating both parties for distributing meat outside Derasar (Jain temples) and non-religious Jain places during last year’s Paryushan, an up to 10-day Jain religious event that encourages forgiveness, introspection, and abstinence. Jains are prohibited by their faith from eating meat, and in some more conservative sections, even onion, garlic, and roots and tubers.
“Now is the time to teach them a lesson…Those who think that Jains are weak need to be shown the door,” the message says.
In the BMC, both Shiv Sena and MNS had raised objections last year when the BJP demanded closure of slaughterhouses during Paryushan. The two parochial parties also backed the Samajwadi Party’s demand to keep the slaughterhouses open during this period. The MNS corporator from Dadar Santosh Dhuri also raised the issue of a residential society not allowing him to purchase a flat in Goregaon since he is a non-vegetarian.
A BJP leader had then asked Jain community members to take a pledge that they would not vote for the two parties thereafter.
A resident from Borivli said that last year there was a minor skirmish in the neighbouring residential society over dietary practices that soon escalated after political interventions,.
“A Shiv Sena leader from the area Vinod Ghoshalkar and his party men rushed to (the) scene and ensured that the ladies of the society were sent to prison for a couple of nights. To add insult to the injury, MNS workers started harassing society members. How can you expect someone to forget that and vote for these parties,” asks a Jain community member who has also received the WhatsApp message.
But giving the community the benefit of the doubt, Sudhir Patni, a Jain who is active in community initiatives at Matunga, said “A political party may have started it. I do not think that Jains may have started it.”
Another Jain, who lives in Malabar Hill and did not wish to be named, said: “The issue as such was started by one Jain monk. He is the one who took this forward through an organisation he had helped set up. However, nothing of him sending such a message is known.”