Earlier, he was also seen patting a cow here or caressing a calf there, videos of which hold a huge significance for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) both at the centre and in Uttar Pradesh and the entire Hindi heartland where the 'cow' is more than an animal.
The reference to cow wasn't limited to that. While launching the National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP) for eradicating Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis in livestock, Modi took a dig at previous governments for ignoring it.
Modi was subtly but clearly pandering to his cow belt voters. With Yogi Adityanath in attendance, who himself is known to run a large gaushala at Gorakhpur, Modi said, "Desh barbaad karne walo ne desh barbaad karne mein kuchh nahi chhoda hai (The people who want to destroy the country have left no stone unturned)". It was a reference to the opposition.
Very soon the PM's statement erupted into a political controversy with AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi jumping into the fray. He said, "Narendra Modi ke kaan tab khade ho jane chahiye jab gaye ke naam par insano ko mara jaa raha hai aur sanvidhan ki dhajiya udayi jaa rahi hai" (Modi should be concerned when people get killed in the name of cow protection and the Constitution is being disregarded).
Congress spokesperson Shama Mohamed took to Twitter to say "'Om' aur 'Gaaye' in shabdo se kisi ko aapatti nahi hai Modiji. Lekin Desh ka durbhagya hai ki kuch logo ke kaan par 'Economy' aur 'Unemployment' shabd padta hai, to wo khaamosh pad jaate hai. Un logo ka kya kare Modiji?" (People have no objection to the words 'Om' and 'Cow'. But it is unfortunate that some people keep mum when they hear words like 'economy' and 'unemployment'. What to do with them, Modiji?)