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Saturday, 21 January 2017

End of Jallikkattu Drama Marks Start of Sasikala's Troubles?

From TSV Hari, Chennai, Vakratund Varma, New Delhi

1746 words, 20 minutes reading

Southern Features News Services Exclusive

Chennai, New Delhi [SFNS]: Has Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a clever move to defuse the political situation in Tamil Nadu that had arisen due to the massive Jallikkattu protests? Has the PM thereby checkmated the sinister designs of Sasikala and her scheming husband M Natarajan who were believed to be behind the stir?

Should one read more into protestors' rejection of the ordinance passed by the Tamil Nadu government - demanding a more permanent solution to the Jallikkattu imbroglio?

Is there more than what meets the eye in protesters' refusal to leave Chennai's Marina Beach demanding a permanent amendment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in order to allow Jallikkattu for ever?

Will the illegal stay of Sasikala and co at Veda Nilayam, Jaya’s residence sans any will and/or testament come to an end?

The Jallikkattu restoration demand - relegated to the cold storage for 3 years - had been suddenly resurrected to pose a challenge to the centre, intelligence reports are said to have indicated to the centre. It was an operation, meant to directly pose twin challenges to the leadership of PM Modi and also to the office of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister - currently held by O Panneerselvam. The underlying message from Sasikala and her husband Natarajan - either allow Sasikala, currently General Secretary of the AIADMK, to peacefully ascend the throne and rule Tamil Nadu for the rest of the term - or face an unprecedented backlash of violence in the state.

In a day of swift developments - the decks for restoration of Jallikkattu were cleared in a jiffy by the centre, its Presidential assent necessity circumvented, passed by the state cabinet and okayed by the state's acting Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao - all within a span of 24 hours.

The week-long dormant issue of Jayalalithaa's sudden, mysterious death has returned like the proverbial bad penny triggering a startling question - will there be a questioning of Sasikala on her role in the unexplained worsening of late Jayalalithaa's health by the Central Bureau of Investigation as the Madras High Court expressed an intention to even exhume her interred body if necessary?

Meanwhile, following the promulgation of the ordinance to hold the bull-taming festival, the curiously meaningless pro-Jallikkattu protests have come to an end. A popular Tamil periodical welcomed the passage, but expressed fears of courts stymieing the issue again.

Prime Minister Modi had paved the way for the facile passage of an ordinance to hold the bull-taming festival. For 5 days running, Chennai remained closed for business. The globe’s 2nd longest sea-front had remained grid-locked throwing transportation out of gear.

But, the so-called “closure” of the issue has raised more questions than provision of answers.

“The whole thing is meaningless. The ‘official’ day for Jallikkattu will occur only a year later, so what was this hullabaloo all about?”

The question came from a devout septuagenarian Hindu supporter of the sport – Srinivasan Ramaseshan.

Very curiously, the fever-pitched clamour for Sasikala’s elevation as the Chief Minister, loudly audible and brazenly visible till a few days ago, had disappeared from the news radars following the publication a report that punched holes in the tales put out by Apollo Hospital and Sasikala about the events leading to Jaya's abrupt death and her aide's questionable role in preventing visits by constitutionally empowered VVIPs to meet the ailing CM. The report had suggested that Apollo has reportedly worked out its "exit route" from the imbroglio as has the centre - leaving Sasikala and her coterie exposed and at the centre of the cross-hairs of the wrath of the judiciary.

“It seemed as though Sasikala’s suspect role in late CM Jayalalithaa’s death had slipped from everyone’s memory. All of a sudden the frenzy to make her CM has evaporated thanks to Jallikkattu stir. The whole drama was too pat and too much loaded in favour of only Sasikala and her husband Natarajan. Everyone else – including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and PM Narendra Modi were being verbally brick-batted. Further, few in the crowd have heard of Alanganallur, the headquarters of Jallikkattu, located some 400 km south of capital Chennai. Members of uniformed police force, under the alibi of openly canvassing for the sport, made public statements at the protest bang opposite the state police headdquarters that could start a violent anti-national wave. All these were unhealthy trends, and left one extremely worried. I am on the wrong side of 70 and remember how under the guise of anti-Hindi agitations [2], our holy threads were cut by DMK youths shouting separatist slogans. There was large scale violence, looting and worse. Significantly, the entire Dravidian movement was born of fissiparous tendencies that demanded – among other things – continuance of British rule or a separate, independent Dravidastan – the exact replica of the demand one sees in Kashmir – albeit under a different alibi,” Ramaseshan averred.

The hurried manner in which the whole thing happened citing law and order issues raised eyebrows.

“Decks were cleared to hold the sport in a jiffy. All the political stakeholders have said ‘aye’ to the project. The state cabinet and the Governor have affixed signatures on the ordinance within a few hours – ending a 3-year wait. If it was this easy, and did not need the President’s assent and other procedural niceties, why did all this drama take place? Who benefited from it? And very importantly, can the game be held on a non-official day [the official one being January 15] just like that? Wouldn’t that be the violation of the cultural ethos as well? Frankly, I do not understand any of this,” Ramaseshan observed.

Schools, colleges, varsities and government establishments being ‘unofficially’ asked to remain shut0 seems a mystery. Shops were ‘advised’ to down shutters across the state. One wonders as to who issued the orders and why. The state’s police HQ and the Fort St George Secretariat are like 2 door posts to the Beach Road and hence a vast crowd of a few lakhs cannot gather unobtrusively. That such an event happened, in itself, is suspicious. The worst part is that separatist slogans and shouts hailing slain terrorists - ex-Tamil Tiger boss V Prabhakaran and Osama bin Laden with huge posters in tow were prominently seen [3] triggering fears of Tamil Nadu becoming a Kashmir,” Ramaseshan, a resident of Triplicane, abutting the Marina pointed out.

Media reports revealed this phenomenon.

Even as sections of the media continued to hail the “orderly conduct” of the protest, a different view of the reality emerged. And it is rowdy behaviour of the protestors – pure and simple. [4]

The separatist angle has ominous portents.

During the United Progressive Alliance regime, the Manmohan Singh government had wantonly overlooked a startling fact that the ISI is known to have close links with members of the LTTE - who survived the 2009 decimation by the Lankan army.

For over 11 years, India’s intelligence agencies have been dreading the large scale influx of separatist influence in southern India through the ISI-LTTE nexus.

Has the PM has checkmated Sasikala and defeated what is believed to be the diabolic brinkmanship of her husband Natarajan through a series of measures to clear the Jallikkattu do? 

Will Natarajan stretch a hitherto little-known culturally relevant sporting event of interior Tamil Nadu to gigantic proportions to challenge the might and majesty of the Indian state?

Only time can provide the answer to that one.

Obviously, the centre has its task cut out. At this point in time – on can only say that the hubby-wife duo has bitten off more than it can chew.


“One has to take a close look at various aspects of the Jallikkattu struggle where pro LTTE, separatist, Tamil Eelam, Tamil nationalist, anti-India, anti PM and anti state CM slogans are being shouted with impunity. There are reports that managements of a few private schools in Chennai that remained open during the unofficial shut-down were not-so-politely questioned about their belief in Tamil causes. Senior police officials who used to subscribe to nationalist blogs till the other day, have opted out – either out of fear or because they have joined ‘the other side.’ Tamil Nadu’s former Chief Secretary Ram Mohan Rao and his business pals – considered very close to CM OPS were raided by central authorities at the alleged behest of Sasikala and her husband Natarajan. The central government’s Finance Portfolio is being handled by Arun Jaitley who is not exactly loyal to PM Modi. Only someone very politically smart like M Natarajan who claims to have authored the success of Jayalalithaa herself can dream all this up. And finally, let us remember that Natarajan had been arrested when Jayalalithaa was alive and Sasikala even changed her name to VK Sasikala [her maiden name] to keep herself in Jayalalithaa’s home. After her brief sojourn in wilderness between December 2011 [when Sasikala was chased out of Jaya’s residence] and April 2012, when the aide returned, reports had indicated Sasikala had no interests in politics or any trappings of power. ‘I am only Madam’s personal aide,’ Sasikala had been quoted as saying in a letter to the then CM. The term has now acquired a different spelling, meaning and significance. Sasikala seems to be Tamil Nadu’s political AIDS,” a police officer requesting anonymity said.


As the day (26 January 1965) of switching over to Hindi as sole official language approached, the anti-Hindi movement gained momentum in Madras State with increased support from college students. On 25 January, a full-scale riot broke out in the southern city of Madurai, sparked off by a minor altercation between agitating students and Congress party members. The riots spread all over Madras State, continued unabated for the next two months, and were marked by acts of violence, arson, looting, police firing and lathi charges. The Congress Government of the Madras State, called in paramilitary forces to quell the agitation; their involvement resulted in the deaths of about seventy persons (by official estimates) including two policemen. To calm the situation, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri gave assurances that English would continue to be used as the official language as long as the non-Hindi speaking states wanted. The riots subsided after Shastri’s assurance, as did the student agitation.

The agitations of 1965 led to major political changes in the state. The DMK won the 1967 assembly election and the Congress Party never managed to recapture power in the state since then. The Official Languages Act was eventually amended in 1967 by the Congress Government headed by Indira Gandhi to guarantee the indefinite use of Hindi and English as official languages. This effectively ensured the current "virtual indefinite policy of bilingualism" of the Indian Republic. There were also two similar (but smaller) agitations in 1968 and 1986 which had varying degrees of success.


The protest is no longer, and perhaps never was, only about Jallikkattu. It has, however, become the rallying point for disgruntlement of the Tamil people, from Tamil Eelam to Cauvery River water-sharing, helped by the general discontent over demonetisation.

The slogans raised, the posters displayed and the beach-side conversations are testimony to the different issues being raised in Tamil Nadu. And couched in the calls for justice is victimhood, the eternal lament of being a Tamil and ‘Indian government’ never caring for it.

Several posters of slain LTTE chief Prabhakaran were also seen at the protests. All these issues tie up, and that is why there is such mass outpouring, says 36-year-old Selvakumar, a professor. “It may not be relevant today, but this shows why so many people are out here. Tamilians and our issues are never taken seriously,” he says.
A group of ten boys from the near fishing hamlets have also come. Dressed in black, and some sporting a fish-shaped gold locket on their necks, they are busy patching together an effigy to burn it. “You know how many Tamil fishermen are killed or arrested by Sri Lanka every month?” one of them asks angrily.


“Trisha should be stripped naked and be chased on the road”.

This is just another abuse faced by Kollywood actor Trisha Krishnan, who left the shooting venue after an angry mob of Jallikkattu supporters protested against her for endorsing PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. A complete list of all these expletives can be found on Facebook that has been used against the actor.

LTTE’s Prabhakaran was the proud symbol of Tamil ethnic identity [also proudly displayed in posters at the protest]. Many Tamil film directors are still claiming Prabhakaran as their leader, and this is the critical background with which the Jallikkattu protest has to be viewed.

Jallikkattu protests and connected rage are based on racial feelings.

Though the struggle is pointed towards Tamil identity, a major part of the youths cannot write in Tamil. Tamil is just a spoken language here and that is an irony.


  1. Dear Sir,
    Thanks for the fabulous piece again sir. The sinister political motivation, as you have rightly pointed out is amply evident. What brings the protesters to display the posters of Prabhakaran. The students in the fishermen community have no business to link it with the constant warfare between the Indian and Lankan fishermen in the sea? It is nothing but nefarious designs engineered by Sashikala and her husband to malign the PM and to snatch the entire Tamil Nadu. A section of students were deliberately encouraged by Sashikala and her coterie to ensure that cases against her were dropped and to create a room for her to upset the applecart of Panneerselvam. What business and right does Sashikala have in continuing her stay at Veda Nilayam of Jayalalithaa? ISI and LTTE hands cannot be ruled out. Some separatist forces are encouraging the present situation when the stage has been cleared for running the event. Will Tamil culture loses its significance, if Jallikattu takes place afte Pongal? As the writer has rightly summed up, will Tamil culture be sustained, as many students do not know how to read and write the ancient language. Why did the same Tamil lobbyists fail to produce when Periyar called Tamil as "Kattumirandi paazhai" and changed its writing style called as "Periyar Tamil".
    Thanks and regards,

  2. Entire article is nothing but bullshiting.

    1. OK Prabakaran, who is the bull and who is shitting? Can you negate a single line in the article? We will carry it in its entirety, if found proper and written in politely acceptable language. The protestors called us unprintable names. If you have guts, write out details! Vakratund Verma, TSV Hari and SFNS editorial team.

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