Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha parliamentarian Maneka Gandhi has ignited a major controversy by launching a scathing attack on the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), branding it as the “biggest cheat” in India. Gandhi has leveled allegations against ISKCON, a well-known spiritual and cultural organization, accusing it of selling cows from its gaushalas (cowsheds) to butchers. This has triggered a wave of public debate and calls for a government inquiry.
In a widely circulated video on social media, Maneka Gandhi can be heard making provocative assertions regarding ISKCON’s activities. She asserts, “The most significant deception in India today is ISKCON.” She goes on to claim, “They establish gaushalas for which they receive boundless government benefits. They acquire vast tracts of land and more. I recently visited their Anantapur Gaushala. To my surprise, not a single dry cow was to be found. All of them were producing milk. There wasn’t a single calf in sight, which suggests that they were all sold. ISKCON is allegedly selling its cows to butchers.”
Gandhi proceeds to cast doubt on the organization’s dedication to cow protection, remarking, “They claim their entire existence revolves around milk. Perhaps no one else has allegedly sold as many cattle to butchers as they have. If they can do it, what about others?”
In response to Gandhi’s allegations, ISKCON’s spokesperson, Yudhistir Govinda Das, swiftly came to the organization’s defense, dismissing her statements as “unsubstantiated” and “false.” ISKCON issued an official statement expressing its astonishment at Gandhi’s accusations and presenting a counter-narrative.
The statement from ISKCON reads, “ISKCON has been at the forefront of cow protection efforts in regions where beef is a dietary staple. Within India, ISKCON manages over 60 gaushalas, where it provides shelter and personalized care for numerous sacred cows and bulls throughout their lives. Many of these animals were rescued after being abandoned, injured, or saved from slaughter.”
Furthermore, ISKCON highlighted its initiatives aimed at training farmers and rural households in cow care techniques, with the goal of revitalizing the tradition of cow worship and care in India. Several of ISKCON’s gaushalas have received recognition and commendation from government authorities and affiliated organizations for their high standards of cow care.
The controversy has transcended the realm of social media, with Vijay Thottathil, the INC Overseas coordinator, sharing Maneka Gandhi’s video on a social media platform. He drew attention to the seriousness of the allegations, given that they were made by a former central minister of the BJP. Thottathil also raised questions about the role of cow vigilante groups and called for a government investigation into the accusations.
In a video statement, ISKCON’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Radharaman Das, vehemently criticized Maneka Gandhi for her statements and challenged her to provide substantiating evidence. Moreover, the ISKCON PRO expressed doubts about Gandhi’s purported visit to the Anantapur Gaushala, asserting that the facility’s staff had no knowledge of her presence.
As the controversy continues to gain momentum, the Indian public finds itself divided over the allegations and counterclaims. People are eagerly awaiting further developments and potential government action. This dispute has thrust the sensitive issue of cow protection into the spotlight and has raised pertinent questions about the responsibilities of organization’s professing to uphold this cause.