Bharatiya Janta Party cadre was up in celebrations in Tamil Nadu after the Centre's notification on allowing Jallikattu - the traditional bull-taming sport held during Pongal festival in the state. Senior BJP leader L Ganesan justified the move saying that the sport symbolises manliness or spirit of a 'kshatriyata' (fighter).
But a number of animal rights group including the Animal Welfare Board has moved to the Supreme Court, challenging Centre's decision.
Eyes are now set on the apex court, which will be giving its final judgement on the issue tomorrow, but the BJP-led Centre has already drawn ire from the animal rights activists who are alleging that the decision has been taken all of a sudden and without any prior consultations with the stake holders.
'Hypocrisy of the Centre'
Speaking of the Centre's stand on the issue, Gauri Maulekhy, animal rights activist and the member-secretary of People For Animals (PFA), says that it has so far been one of the most dangerous decisions taken by the government for animal rights.
Giving the reference of the 'beef-controversy' she says, "The decision exposes the hypocrisy of the Centre which aggressively enacted a number of laws for protection of cows across the country last year. Sadly they are not treating the bull like the cow. Moreover they have not been looking into any proper arrangements for the cow shelters as they promised."
It is also surprising that Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development and also the founder of PFA, has also not reacted to the issue so far.
The Animal Welfare Board (AWB), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has extensively studied the sport which in itself epitomises cruelty. During Jallikattu, bulls which are not anatomically made to run by terrifying. This is done by disorienting the creature by alcohol, by twisting and biting the tails, stabbing and jacking by sickles, spear, knives and sticks, punching and dragging in ground and even puring acid on the rear.
"We have monitored it for four years. 4 bulls died during the events where as 11 people lost their lives. Thousands of the spectators were injured," says Major General (Retd) Dr R M Kharb, Chairman of AWB.
So why is the government trying to patronize such a barbaric tradition?
In the year 2011, the Congress led UPA government came out with a notification which prohibited the exhibition or training of bulls and other animals as performing ones. The Supreme Court had in 2014 upheld the order of 2011.
Now, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who initiated the request (by writing to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi) to lift the ban on the sport blamed the UPA regime for putting a ban on the which is a 'huge tourist attraction' for the state.
While Jayalalithaa's support for Jalliakattu is understandable, it is still a 'cow-supporting' BJP's political motives behind the decision are still latent.
Some of the political experts believe that the party is trying to align itself on the line of AIADMK leadership which is trying to win the votes of the Thevar community, a sizeable backward class group which is involved in the sport in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
"BJP has seen multiple setbacks in the recent elections. This might be its strategy garner a votebank in the southern state," says Maulekhy. "Perhaps the party might be seeing an opportunity in the bull-taming sport thinking that bringing it back might just invite some hue and cry from the animal rights groups but will ascertain a positive image for the party among the electorate," she adds.
Man, bull and money
According to Gajender Sharma, World Animal Protection Country Director, the tradition of Jallikattu is not just a sport but extend beyond to the illegal activities of gambling and betting."A lot of money is involved in the game where are number of lives are put at risk.People therefore in the name of tradition and religion trying to serve their vested interests," says Sharma.
So is there a possibility that the local politicians or the bureaucrats might be hand in glove with the organisers for monetary benefits? Mauleky believes it can perhaps be the case.