Goa BJP distances from minister’s peacock, bison comments

Panaji, Feb 13 (IANS) Goa’s ruling BJP on Saturday distanced itself from Agriculture Minister Ramesh Tawadkar’s controversial remark seeking classification as “vermin” of the Great Indian bison and the peacock, both protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act.

“We are not in favour of terming peacocks and bison as vermin,” Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Pramod Sawant said at a press conference at the party’s state headquarters in Panaji.

Tawadkar on Friday said a process was on to declare peacocks, bisons, wild boars and monkeys as vermin or nuisance animals because they were damaging crops and horticulture.

While the peacock is the national bird, the bison, also known as the Gaur, is the state animal of Goa.

“Some farmers have said peacocks were damaging their crops in fields in hilly areas. The committee will also assess whether peacocks should be declared vermin or nuisance species,” Tawadkar said.

The comments triggered national uproar, and political parties in Goa, including the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, had condemned the remarks.

State Congress president Luizinho Faleiro said the proposed move to brand the peacock and bison as vermin was “suicidal”.

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, AAP Goa coordinator Valmiki Naik demanded that Tawadkar retract his statement, which the party claimed would send a wrong message to the people and make the wild animals more vulnerable.

“Tawadkar should immediately retract the statement. If any peacock or bison is killed in Goa due to this statement, the minister should be booked for his reckless comments,” Naik said.

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