Swamy’s relentless name-calling has caused an explosive reaction from pro-jallikattu protesters, who see a grave insult to all Tamilians.

Jallikattu protest Subramanian Swamy faces massive ire for using term porukkis
news Jallikattu Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 11:05

The pro-jallikattu protests on the ground in Tamil Nadu have been completely peaceful, but social media is a different beast altogether. A major target of protester’s ire on social media is BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, thanks to his tweets calling the protesters, “porukkis”, which roughly translates to “rowdies” or “thugs”.

Swamy first kicked off tempers on Twitter when he tweeted that any jallikattu events transgressing the Supreme Court ban should invite President’s Rule in Tamil Nadu.

Going on the offensive from this point, Swamy accused the pro-jallikattu protestors of showing bravado on social media, but quietly bowing down to the police machinery when it was deployed.

The online war of words began to heat up when Swamy invoked the National Investigative Agency (NIA) against the protesters on January 17, even as protests on the ground began to pick up tempo.

When Twitter users hit back at him for it, Swamy went on the offensive.

Most of this relentless war of tweets and counter-tweets has taken the form of repetitive name-calling, as Swamy and those opposed to his comments sling crass comments at each other.

Going by his tweets, you’d think Swamy was against jallikattu. But in the BJP leader’s case, the truth is usually more complicated than that. In fact, Subramanian Swamy is arguing the case in Supreme Court to lift the ban on the bull-taming sport.

When one of his ‘PTs’ (Patriotic Tweeple) questioned the legitimacy of several leaders’ claims that they support jallikattu, and claimed that only Subramanian Swamy actually did something about the issue, Swamy endorsed the tweets, while continuing his name-calling of protesters.

In his own words, “On request of many Tamils I argued in SC for Jallikattu. But Porukkis lied that I opposed it!”

But this defence has been completely buried in the noise generated by Swamy’s persistent name-calling and insults. Online and on the ground at Marina Beach, protesters are enraged at what they see as Swamy’s inability to understand Tamil culture and behave in a cultured manner himself.

A number of  memes mocking Swamy have also cropped up on numerous Facebook groups, including some that have been recycled from the past. 

Narendran (29), working in a travel agency, is one of the protesters at Marina to voice his ire against Swamy. He told TNM, “Whatever Swamy says is not right in any way. He does not know anything about our culture. We bring up bulls like our daughters.”

Another student protester hit out at Swamy, saying, “Subramanian Swamy is unfit to be in politics and no one has any right to say anything about our protest for our culture. We are protesting to save our culture.”

Many of the voices raised against Swamy have lashed out at the BJP leader for making such abusive comments even as their protests have stayed completely peaceful and even earned the praise of the local police for it.

Tamil celebrities like RJ Balaji also hit out at Swamy. Speaking to the media, Balaji said, “You just have to come to any city in Tamil Nadu to know what kind of protest this is. Maybe Gandhiji in the pre-independence era has protested in a silent, peaceful way. That is exactly what is happening right now... It is a protest that India has never seen in the past decades after Independence.” He also added that the pro-jallikattu movement was completely led by students and had no hidden political agendas behind it.

Politician and actor Khushbu also hit out at Swamy for his use of the term "porukki", insinuating that he was referring to himself when he used it. 

An online petition has also been kicked off on Change.org, demanding that Swamy should apologise for his abusive remarks against the Tamil people.

If Swamy is in support of jalllikattu, however, and wants the sport to continue, what is the logic behind his online rants? Going by a tweet on Wednesday night by Swamy, his main objection is that the protesters have targeted the BJP government at the Centre and demanded that it immediately pass an Ordinance in favour of jallikattu.

In the article by right-wing mouthpiece PGurus that Swamy linked with this tweet, Swamy said, “It is not possible for the Centre to promulgate an ordinance to resume Jallikattu. The Supreme Court judgement was based on the materials submitted by various petitioners. If the petitioners so feel, they may be able to approach the court with enough evidences and reasons for altering the earlier submissions. The only course of action is through petitions and submissions.”

However, there is disagreement among experts on whether the Ordinance route is closed to the central government, and its legal viability. Speaking to TNM, Justice Markandey Katju said that the centre was perfectly within its rights to promulgate an ordinance that could create the legal basis for the sport to be continued. 

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