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Amid the ongoing controversy over cow vigilantes, the BJP has abolished its ‘Gau Vansh Vikas Prakoshth’, a cell the party had set up around six years ago to create awareness among the masses about the significance of cows in daily life.

The decision comes just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at “fake Gau Rakshaks”.

With the party deciding not to set up the cell at the national level, its Uttar Pradesh unit has also decided to do the same.

Earlier, the BJP used to have over 40 cells for different sectors at the Central and state levels. The ‘Gau Vansh Vikas Prakoshth’ was one of them.

“The national leadership has reduced the number of prakoshths (cells) to 12 and has allowed the state units to form five more cells according to local needs and conditions. The state unit has declared all 17 cells, but the ‘Gau Vansh Vikas Prakoshth’ is not among them,” confirmed a BJP office bearer. The 17 cells include law, medical, cooperative, economic, ex-servicemen, weavers, cultural, teachers, fishermen, trade, local bodies, panchayat, NGO, senior citizen and small scale industries.

Hriday Nath Singh, who was the national coordinator of BJP’s ‘Gau Vansh Vikas Prakoshth’ till it was abolished recently, told The Indian Express that the cell had been active till 2015, but the party had decided to not form it in the future. However, BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said the cell could be formed at the Central level later. “The party’s state units too have authority to form this cell at their level. BJP has always been in favour of the protection of cows. Cow slaughtering is completely banned in BJP-ruled states. The NDA government advocates linking cows with the agriculture sector,” Sharma said.

“This cell was aimed at the protection of cows, and promoting the raising of cows in households. People were informed about the importance of the animal in the agriculture and economic sectors, the health benefits of its milk and the benefits of its urine and dung for other purposes such as fertilisation,” said Singh, who has an RSS background.

BJP state president Keshav Prasad Maurya was not available for comment.

A BJP state unit leader said, “The party has decided to not to form the ‘Gau Vansh Vikas Prakoshth’ from now on. But cow protection remains in the agenda of BJP. The resolution on the agriculture sector passed in the recent state executive meeting in Jhansi included a demand for the establishment of special centres in Bundelkhand for the protection of cows, and running programmes to increase their population in the state.”