New tourism minister Alphons Kannanthanam has told the visitors to eat beef in their own country before visiting India. KL Alphons made the comment on being asked whether restriction in consumption of beef was affecting the tourism sector.”They (tourists) can eat beef in their own country and come here yaar,” Alphons asserted.

The statement comes days after he had affirmed that beef will continue to be consumed in Kerala. “As Goa chief minister, Manohar Parrikar has said that beef will be consumed in the state. Similarly, it will be consumed in Kerala. The BJP does not mandate that beef cannot be eaten. We don’t dictate food habits in any place. It is for the people to decide,” he had said.

When he was questioned about his previous statements, the new tourism minister stated that it was a “cock and bull story” adding that he was not the food minister but a Minister of Tourism.

He was addressing a gathering at a convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators in Bhubaneswar when he made the remarks. Alphons had earlier said that if a BJP-ruled state like Goa could eat beef, consuming beef in Kerala should not be an issue.

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“There was a lot of propaganda in 2014, that if Modi comes to power Christians will be burnt, churches will be demolished. The prime minister has made it clear that believe whatever you want, I will protect you. The PM has done a fantastic job in taking everyone along,” Alphons said.

Cow slaughter is banned in several states in India including Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Kerala, which is one of the major consumers of beef, has no restriction on cow slaughter.

KJ Alphons took charge of the tourism ministry after the much-awaited cabinet shuffle.