Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan on Wednesday challenged the Congress party, by asking whether it has the courage to ban beef in Kerala, reports said.

Responding to senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh's statement that his party would support legislation to ban cow slaughter in the country, Balyan said BJP "would be convinced if the Congress managed to ban it in Kerala, where it is in power," reported The Hindu.

Singh said on Tuesday that Congress governments have imposed beef ban in 24 States over the years. "I am surprised the BJP does not know that out of the 29 States, cow slaughter is banned in 24," The Indian Express quoted the Congress leader as saying. "And in most of these States, the prohibition was imposed by Congress governments. The Congress Working Committee had passed a resolution in the 1930s seeking a ban on cow slaughter. There was a ban on cow slaughter during Mughal rule. In the Bhopal riyasat of the Nawab, there was a ban on cow slaughter," he had said.

Cow slaughter is banned in all States except Kerala and five north-eastern States including Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

Minister Balyan on Tuesday called a meeting of APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) to assess meat export from India as the government suspects that beef exports have soared because of increase in cow slaughter.