In the end, it took a New York Times editorial on his “shameful silence” for Narendra Modi to speak out against cow vigilantism, two days in a row, in two states. But even there, the PM addressed only his “Dalit brothers” flogged in Gujarat, not Muslims lynched in Uttar Pradesh. He also drew a distinction between “fake” and “real” gau rakshaks. The RSS backed the PM’s “great leap forward”, but the VHP refused to play ball. Worthies in different states warned that the BJP would pay a steep price in the 2019 general elections for labelling 80 per cent of “cow protectors” as “criminal”. Modi’s detractors, though, guess it is only votebank politics of a different kind, with polls due in UP, Punjab and Gujarat.