PM’s role in lifting jallikattu ban ignored, says Sitharaman

Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.   | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman termed the opposition Congress and DMK’s support for jallikattu as a “360 degree turn” in the political narrative around the issue.

The Minister went on to say that it was “unfortunate” that the rhetoric around jallikattu had obscured the BJP’s and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own efforts at getting the ban on the sport lifted.

“In this whole matter, in understanding the role that jallikattu plays in Tamil Nadu and its social life, if anything, it is the BJP that has constantly been in favour of lifting the ban on the bull as a performing animal. Last year in January, with a notification from the Union government’s side, the Centre wanted to help the situation. But unfortunately, in January again, the Supreme Court struck down that notification,” she said in an exclusive interview to The Hindu.

State delayed action on jallikattu, says Nirmala

Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the Tamil Nadu government could have intervened in the issue of jallikattu ban as early as last year. Things, then,  would not have come to such a  pass.

Speaking to The Hindu on the current protests and violence in the State, Ms Sitharaman said: “I do not wish to personalise it, but in January of 2016, I was in Tamil Nadu attending the Cambodia-Myanmar-Laos-Vietnam conclave that we held at Mahabalipuram... There I had said very clearly that, if anything, the State government has the power to take out an ordinance to ensure that jallikattu can go on. Last year itself, therefore, we were clear that the State government could very well do this, and if it did, we (Central government) would support the move,” Ms Sitharaman said.

The Minister conceded that the power vaccum following late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s illness could have contributed to the issue not being addressed in time. “I have a feeling that many of the issues that are at the heart of the protests are issues on which a continuous dialogue should have been maintained. Last year as I understand, because of the health condition of the late CM. and subsequently the election, a lot of time was spent on doing many other things that suited the exigency, preparing for polls etc. As a result, I feel, a critical one year, when issues such as this, could have been broached were not discussed,” she said.

‘UPA to blame’

Recalling the context, the Minister said, “The first major step to banning jallikattu was in 2011 when the then UPA government at the Centre included the bull in the list of performing animals, as a result of which jallikattu could not take place. Therefore, the anger has to be expressed against the Congress which did not understand what role jallikattu has in the social life of Tamil Nadu. Also, the DMK, which was in power alongside the Congress in those years, ironically today, finds merit in the agitation over jallikattu and does a rail roko.”

She added that it was “hurting and disappointing to see the Prime Minister being accused, someone who actually  tried to  defuse the situation last January, as he did this year  too.”


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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 8:18:51 PM |

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