GUWAHATI: Hitting out at Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma over the cow protection bill, MLA Akhil Gogoi said he will be remembered as the “most communal and divisive CM” in the history of Assam.

Addressing a press conference here, Gogoi apologised to the people of Assam for not being able to stop the passage of the bill as he was the lone MLA from his Raijor Dal.

“When the bill was passed on August 13, I could not sleep that night. This is a devastating act, which will destroy the communal harmony among people and ruin the rural economy.”

“Assam will remember Himanta Biswa Sarma as the most communal and divisive CM. He is the most dangerous CM and the people of Assam are not safe under his rule,” Gogoi alleged.

He equated the passing of the bill with the demolition of Babri Masjid and said both are equally dangerous incidents for destroying the Hindu-Muslim unity of the country.

On August 13, the Assembly passed The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, seeking to ban cattle slaughter and sale of beef in the areas where Hindus, Jains and Sikhs are in a majority or within a five-kilometre radius of a temple or satra (Vaishnavite monasteries) or any other institution as may be prescribed by the authorities.

Gogoi also alleged that Sarma misquoted Mahatma Gandhi during his speech while passing the bill.

“He (Sarma) lied in the House in reference to Mahatma Gandhi’s statements. Has he not killed Mahatma Gandhi again? Why should we not call him the second Nathuram Godse?” Gogoi said.

Stating that banning beef will hurt the freedom of choice of food, the MLA apologised to the people, especially Muslims and Christians, for not being able to stop the passage of the legislation.

“This bill is going to destroy the rural economy and will lead to severe inflation. We have already seen price rise in other meats, eggs and fish after the bill was introduced. All dairy farmers will be impacted by this as they will not be able to sell their non-milking cows for slaughter.”

“The market involved with purchase and sale of cows will be severely impacted. The size of this market is Rs 20,000-30,000 crore, most of which is in rural areas. Now, this will be impacted,” he claimed.

Though the BJP-led government has brought in the Act to hit the Muslim community, in the end, it will hit hard the indigenous Hindu people of the state who are dependent on the cattle economy, Gogoi asserted.

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora on August 4 had informed the Assembly that Assam produced 33.68 lakh kg of cattle meat and 1.59 lakh kg of buffalo meat during 2019-20 out of a total meat production of 5.3 crore kg.

Bora had said as per the 20th Livestock Census in 2019, Assam has a cattle population of 1.09 crore and buffalo population of 4.22 lakh.