Jallikattu has made the people of Tamil Nadu brazen and rebellious towards the Supreme Court's order banning it. As the Jallikattu issue becomes more politicised, state leaders are crying foul over the Centre not doing anything to help Tamil Nadu. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam dashed off multiple letters, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and other parties have taken to protests and some political parties like Naam Tamilar Katchi have gone ahead to organise the banned sport in utter defiance.
All said and done, can the Centre really do anything to help go ahead with Jallikattu? What did the Supreme Court say while staying an ordinance that was passed in 2016 allowing Jallikattu? Is this really a matter of Tamil pride or are the political parties simply using this as a tool for mileage given the political scenario in the state?
What happened to the 2016 ordinance?
Following a letter by then Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa, the Narendra Modi government in 2016 had passed an ordinance allowing Jallikattu. The ordinance excluded bulls from the list of performing animals under the the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Tamil Nadu was convinced that Jallikattu will go on without legal hassles but the joy was short-lived as the Supreme Court stayed the ordinance, upholding its earlier order banning the sport.
When the matter came up for hearing before a Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra, the Centre said that the ban on Jallikattu was lifted because it is an age old tradition. To this Justice Misra said, "Child marriage too is an age old tradition. Does that make it legal? In earlier times child marriage was common. Does that justify its practise."
The judgement in the case is pending with the Supreme Court. The court said that the draft of the judgement is ready but it can't be passed immediately. The court even dismissed a petition seeking early passing of order in the issue. "It is unfair to ask for the order to be passed before Jallikattu is organised in Tamil Nadu," the court said on Thursday.
Given its previous experience with the Supreme Court over ordinance allowing Jallikattu, the Centre government is helpless this time around. With their 2016 ordinance stayed by the SC, there is very little that the union government can do.
Letters, protest and defiance
Knowing fully well that the centre can do nothing this time around, political parties in Tamil Nadu are taking turns to shoot off letters urging the government to pass an ordinance allowing Jallikattu. While AIADMK chose the letter route, the DMK is taking to protests. DMK called for a state wide protest on Friday urging the Centre to pass an ordinance that it, in reality, can't.
Lesser known parties like NTK are also vying for a piece of Jallikattu politics by going ahead and organising the event in Cuddalore. Taking a cue from them, other organisations, political and apolitical in nature have gone on to organise Jallikattu events in various districts including Madurai. While the police have been asked to dismantle the venues in an attempt to stop people from violating the Supreme Court order, there is just too much opposition to the ruling.
Every political party has made Jallikattu an agenda of 'Tamil pride'. Some have accused the Centre of being anti-Tamil while others are asking Supreme Court to take action against Karnataka for violating its order on Cauvery water release before it initiates action against Tamil Nadu for going ahead with Jallikattu.
Jallikattu has become a tool for political parties to appease their vote bank once again highlighting that only regional parties truly care about the people as well as sentiments of Tamil Nadu, a page right out of Periyar's self-respect movement.