Wrestlers’ arrest shows Sengol bent on inaugural day: TN CM

By, Chennai
May 29, 2023 12:37 AM IST

The DMK-led secular progressive alliance in Tamil Nadu is among the 19 parties across India that boycotted the new Parliament building’s inauguration

Condemning the arrests of the women wrestlers protesting in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin on Sunday said that the sengol, a sceptre given from Tamil Nadu’s mutt to Jawaharlal Nehru, installed in the new Parliament has “bent” on its inaugural day.

Indian wrestlers Sangeeta Phogat (L), and Vinesh Phogat (C) during a protest , in New Delhi. (AFP)
Indian wrestlers Sangeeta Phogat (L), and Vinesh Phogat (C) during a protest , in New Delhi. (AFP)

The agitating wrestlers led by Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik, along with several others, are protesting against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Singh, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP, demanding his arrest for alleged sexual harassment of several women grapplers, including a minor.

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“For several months, they have protested accusing a BJP member of sexual harassment, but the party leadership has taken no action,” Stalin said in a statement.

“This (arrest) shows that the sceptre has been bent on the first day. Is it just that on the inauguration day, when you have already ignored the President, the opposition has boycotted you, and you indulge in such anarchy?”

The DMK-led secular progressive alliance in Tamil Nadu is among the 19 parties across India that boycotted the new Parliament building’s inauguration, stating that President Droupadi Murmu should have rightfully inaugurated it and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) chief K S Alagiri said that Modi receiving the sengol (sceptre) from the state’s priests accompanied by Tamil hymns is a form of Tamil appeasement, but the Tamil electorate would reject him.

“What good are you going to do for Tamils by displaying the sengol? They have allotted more than 1,000 crore for the development of Sanskrit, which no one speaks. But for seven crore people who speak Tamil, you have allotted less than 20 crore,” Alagiri told a vernacular television channel. “Their actions are different from what they say. It is political. But, no matter what they do, Tamil people will not accept them because people know that there is no relationship between them and the Tamils. BJP conducted the Kasi Tamil Sangam, but priests from Tamil Nadu were not included in it.”

Alagiri added that if the BJP-led union government had agreed with the opposition’s stance and allowed the President to inaugurate the new Parliament, the parties would have attended.

BJP’s ally in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK, said that the “historic” sengol elucidates Tamil pride, legacy and heritage.

“I express my gratitude on behalf of the people of Tamil Nadu,” AIADMK general secretary and leader of the state’s opposition Edappadi Palaniswami said in a letter to Modi. “I wish to convey my appreciation for constructing the parliament in a record time and also for installing the sceptre, during your tenure as Prime Minister of India.”

However, a senior leader from the AIADMK agreed with Congress’s allegation that this is a form of Tamil appeasement.

“The BJP is trying to grow in Tamil Nadu, and there is nothing wrong with these actions. Every party has the right to develop their party,” the leader, not wishing to be named, said.

“But, if they take one step forward to do something for Tamil Nadu, they end up taking several steps behind. See, do not support NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Exam), which the entire state is against. So it will be difficult for people to accept that.”

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    Divya Chandrababu is an award-winning political and human rights journalist based in Chennai, India. Divya is presently Assistant Editor of the Hindustan Times where she covers Tamil Nadu & Puducherry. She started her career as a broadcast journalist at NDTV-Hindu where she anchored and wrote prime time news bulletins. Later, she covered politics, development, mental health, child and disability rights for The Times of India. Divya has been a journalism fellow for several programs including the Asia Journalism Fellowship at Singapore and the KAS Media Asia- The Caravan for narrative journalism. Divya has a master's in politics and international studies from the University of Warwick, UK. As an independent journalist Divya has written for Indian and foreign publications on domestic and international affairs.

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