Is Jallikattu mess the BJP's anti-Hindi lowpoint in Tamil Nadu?
The larger issue at stake is Tamil culture and identity. The lack of interest shown by the BJP in resolving the Jallikattu conflict could sink it.
The still swelling protests in Chennai, on for the third day, for the continuance of Jallikattu is turning into another anti-Hindi agitation in Tamil Nadu but with PETA and all animal rights activists being the objects of hate and, very calculatedly, not the Supreme Court. Nobody wants to talk ill of the court since everybody mouths the same truism that the highest court of the land is seldom wrong and serves justice. And everyone is aware of the perils of being in contempt of court.
But here PETA is the villain, like the legendary MN Nambiar in MGR films, for pushing a case of “concocted cruelty” against animals during the bull run. Now it is time for celebrities in Chennai to come out and support the event, even if they agreed with it or not. Even if there is no bull on the chessboard, former world chess champion Vishwanathan Anand supported Jallikattu. Actor Kamalhaasan was among the first to come out in full support, he, unlike Anand, has starred in films that feature some of the imagery of the bull-taming contest. Now it is music director AR Rahman’s turn to fast for resolving the issue.
The sloganeering against Modi will make anyone blush. And there's these signs against Modi/Swamy etc. pic.twitter.com/Yw9ELXuGyA
— Puram (@puram_politics) January 19, 2017
Survival is paramount and with Tamil news TV getting shriller by the minute, it is better for celebrities to say things like how jallikattu is important. Tamil news TV seems to have gained a big release following the death of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa who had a penchant for defamation cases, fearing which news reports were a bit circumspect. But with no Jaya and caution thrown to the winds, the gathering of students has now suddenly become the big news moment. The age and experience of M. Karunanidhi is missing from the scene and the DMK looks loathe to gun for the ruling AIADMK, lest it blow up on its face. Now there is talk of an all-party meeting on Friday, where everybody will say the same thing they said today.
The Tamil Nadu BJP now looks like a lost child in the jallikattu after Prime Minister Modi told Tamil Nadu CM that all rests with the Supreme Court. A fact OPS knew before he reached 7, Lok Kalyan Marg (RCR’s new name). Friends help friends, especially in hard times. Films made all over the country have shown scenes where politicians pull favours out of their hats for buddies, especially buddies whose party is lolling in the wild sea without its erstwhile Leader. Pointing to the Supreme Court and saying it is sub-judice is all nice and proper but will that solve Tamil heartburn? In this no-leader land, there is room for future stars (or, for old warhorses to redeem their fate) to rise but who will bell the bull is still unclear. Will the Centre blink and take the begged-for ordinance route or will it stand resolutely by the court ban depends on how seriously the BJP wants to make itself a force in the South?
The crowds are being credited to the pull of social media. If we don’t see a resolution soon, the day is not far when people will talk of Arab Spring and Tahrir Square, though the spring dried before turning the square leaving Libya in strife and Egypt in disarray.
Even the mild Anbumani Ramadoss said the outpouring of public support was unseen in 50 years. He was surely talking of the anti-Hindi agitation post-1965 when Lal Bahadur Shastri as Prime Minister imposed Hindi as the official language all over the country. The Tamil nationalist movement led by the DMK ousted the Congress from the state. The Congress is not even third of fourth in the state now.
Will the BJP of 2017 suffer the Congress fate of 1965 in Tamil Nadu? The outpouring along the Marina could decide that. And will the loss of face in Tamil Nadu hurt in distant Uttar Pradesh where the party will be on the horns of a dilemma if it doesn’t become the single largest party.