Ahead of elections to the local bodies in urban and rural Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has initiated protests against the ban on bullock cart races, a popular sport in the state. It has asked chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for an ordinance on the issue, along the lines of Tamil Nadu’s ordinance on Jallikattu.
The Shiv Sena, accompanied by local farmers, staged protests in Chakan near Pune on Saturday, blocking several roads. The party’s agitation comes at a time when its seat-sharing talks with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have failed to achieve a breakthrough, leading to a deadlock ahead of the elections to 10 municipal corporations, 26 zilla prishads and 283 panchayat samitis in February.
Despite the Supreme Court’s ban on Jallikattu, the bull-taming sport has been made legal in Tamil Nadu, after the state government enacted an ordinance, which governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao approved of . Rao is the governor of both Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
“Fadnavis must follow Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam’s lead. He must talk to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and introduce an ordinance to circumvent the 2014 ban on bullock cart racing,” said Shiv Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil.
The apex court banned bullock cart racing after animal activists sough a prohibition on the sport, terming it ‘cruel’.
The Shiv Sena leaders said they plan to protest in each part of the state to pressure Fadnavis. “I have been fighting against the ban since 2014. I have fought in parliament and on the streets. If the government does not pay heed, we will agitate through morchas and public meetings,” said Patil.
Pune-based animal activist Manoj Oswal — who was the observer on behalf of the Supreme Court when it heard the petition against the sport in 2014 — said he will move the apex court once more, challenging the Tamil Nadu government’s decision.