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Monday, April 10, 2023

Gau SEvak . .. ... Cow and Calf - is Cow a religious symbol ?!?

Gau Sevak simply is protector of Cows !  - Bhagwan Lord Krishna Himself was a cowherd, a great protector of Sanatana Dharma and Cows.  Now-a-days, people might attribute something else and call those Cow vigilantes as Sanghi and  here is a photo of a young calf drinking milk from its mother taken this evening at Thiruvallikkeni . .. .. no political post though, not exactly about a party but more on its once Election symbol. 


In his book ‘The Case That Shook India: The Verdict That Led to the Emergency’  Prashant Bhushan draws attention to the court proceedings that took place in the watershed Indira Gandhi vs Raj Narain case. This particular extract highlights an interesting aspect of that debate that also seems to have a contemporary resonance: can the cow be treated as a symbol of Hindu religion? The Election Commission in 1971 had allotted the symbol of a cow and calf to the Congress party then led by Indira Gandhi. The charge against Gandhi, argued in court by Shanti Bhushan, Narain’s counsel, was that she was invoking Hindu sentiment by using the cow and calf symbol. 

To start with the Congress that ruled after Independence is not the same party that Gandhi headed and fought freedom struggle.  …. And it has seen many splits, everytime when the dynasty is questioned.  

After the Congress split in 1969, the faction led by Indira Gandhi took  a conscious turn towards socialism. Interestingly, the new symbol of the breakaway faction led by Gandhi was that of a cow suckling its calf. 

A few years earlier, in Nov 1966, there was bloodshed in the gates of Parliament – tens of thousands of people assembled at an open space near the Parliamentary complex. Led by a group of ash-smeared, trishul-brandishing Naga Sadhus, the group had a single demand — a countrywide ban on cow slaughter. Its leaders were extolling the virtues of the ‘mother cow’, and soon moved towards the main gates of Parliament – they were brutally assaulted, crushed with fatalities. 

In 1969, Congress again faced internal conflicts. After the death of Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister. She decided to break out and form a new party. With majority of the Congress party members in support of her in the new party which was named Congress (Requisitionists), the other Congress came to be called Congress (Organisation).  The party’s symbol was bullocks – when it was gone, Ms Indira Gandhi turned to cow, which she had crushed a few years earlier.    

Cries of hurting religious sentiments were raised soon after the symbol was allotted and it prompted then Chief Election Commissioner S P Sen Varma later to record in an official account on the elections that it was “difficult to accept the view that cow represents Hindu religion”. Post Emergency, Indira’s leadership once again came to be questioned within the party and she decided to split the party again; her faction came to be called Congress (Indira).  This time, EC gave the party  three choices – an elephant, a bicycle and an open palm.  With the leader away in AP, Buta Singh and others chose Hand – open palm as   easily recognisable.   

What was buried deep was the fact that a similar symbol had been sought by the Akhil Bharatiya Ram Rajya Parishad in the 1952 elections but was refused by the Election Commission on the ground that it was a religious symbol.  The Commission specifically mentioned the cow as one of the objects having a religious association. The same Commission which had refused to allot the symbol of a cow to the Parishad in 1952 on the ground that it was a religious symbol allotted it to the ruling Congress party.’


.. ..and in case, you want to read some more history, the Congress party that was founded in Dec 1885,  at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Bombay, by AO Hume and the party symbol during Jawaharlal Nehru era was   two bullocks carrying a yoke.

Interesting !
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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