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Jallikattu: Centre in a Dilemma as Protests Spread From Chennai to Delhi

People gather in front of an enclosure to participate in Jallikattu as bulls were released despite its ban, in Madurai. (Image: PTI)

New Delhi: The Centre wants to catch the Jallikattu bull by the horns as BJP eyes a future in post-Jayalalithaa Tamil Nadu, but dissenting voices within led by Maneka Gandhi besides the law and environment ministries have got its hands tied.

As protests continue 48 hours after crowds started gathering in Chennai’s Marina beach, the row reached New Delhi on Thursday with Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam personally calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to look into an urgent solution and Tamil super star Vishal Reddy beginning a fast in Jantar Mantar seeking a removal of the ban.

Top sources within the government told News18 that the PM has been closely monitoring the situation since Wednesday and had his paperwork ready when the CM met him Wednesday morning.

The PM has seen a note prepared by the Ministry for Environment and is studying the draft of an ordinance text (prepared earlier and modified recently) that would make the bull-taming sport legal again. The PM has also been briefed on the legal complexities in this regard, source said.

According to the tentative government plan, the Attorney General will tell the apex court that it has working on a new ordinance, which would address concerns of court.

But even within the government, there are dissenting voices mostly led by Women & Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi. News18 learns that two crucial ministries, law and environment, has advised against any ordinance confronting the SC ruling.

It is learnt that CM Panneerselvam has demanded that the Centre promulgate an audience to circumvent the Supreme Court ban on the popular sport that has earned the wrath of animal rights activists.

But the PM is yet to take a decision, according to sources. For one, the Centre doesn’t want to be seen as taking on the Supreme Court given the many run-ins during the tenure of former Chief Justice of India Justice TS Thakur.

But the BJP is hoping that Centre would weigh in favour of the sport as it eyes Tamil Nadu where the saffron camp sees an opportunity after the passing away of J Jayalalithaa last month.

The party doesn’t want to antagonise Tamil sentiments and would want to give the impression that it is in sync with what Tamil Nadu thinks, a party leader told News18.