Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday arrived in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to celebrate Pongal and watch the bull-taming sport jallikattu. Gandhi said that his visit was aimed at giving a message that the Tamil spirit cannot be suppressed.

“The government in Delhi is under the impression that they can destroy the cultures of this country,” he said at a press conference after watching the jallikattu event. “They believe that they can suppress the emotions of the Tamil people, they believe they can crush the language of the Tamil people, they believe they can suppress the spirit of the Tamil people. I came to give them a message that nobody is going to suppress the Tamil spirit.”

He said that suppressing the Tamil spirit is the worst thing one can do to the country as traditions and cultures are, just like the Tamil, the essence of India.

The Congress leader also said that he watched jallikattu and learned why Tamil people love the sport. He said, that as against what he was told by many people, the event was not harmful to the bulls. “The way it was done today, there was absolutely no chance of bulls getting injured,” he said. “In fact, if there was any chance of anyone getting injured, it was the young men doing jallikattu. I am happy to say that there have been some changes to make it safer for everybody.” “It was quite a lovely experience to see Tamil culture, history in action,” he said, according to NDTV. “I thank the Tamil people. I will be coming back here, not once but number of times.”

‘Centre will be forced to take back farm laws’: Gandhi

On the question about the farmers’ protest in Delhi, Gandhi said that the government was conspiring to destroy the cultivators.

“The government wants to destroy them because they want to benefit two or three of their friends... They want to take the land of the farmers, they want to take the produce of the farmer and give it to their friends,” the Congress leader said.

He said that if anybody thinks they can suppress the farmers and India will continue to prosper, they have to look at the history of the country. “Whenever Indian farmers are weak, India is weak.”

He alleged that the government was not helping the farmers and the common people suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, and asked Narendra Modi if he was the prime minister of the country or two or three businessmen.

“Mark my words.... The government will be forced to take them [the farm laws] back.” Gandhi said, adding that he fully supports the farmers’ protest.

Before Gandhi’s arrival, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President KS Alagiri said that the Congress leader was lending support to the farmers by witnessing the jallikattu event as bull is a symbol of farmers and part of their lives, according to PTI.

Gandhi was accompanied by Alagiri, senior party leaders KC Venugopal and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayansamy at the jallikattu event. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam youth wing Secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin also joined Gandhi to watch the event. DMK and Congress are in an alliance and are slated to contest the state Assembly polls to be held later this year.

Meanwhile, five people were detained by the police for showing black flags and shouting slogans against farm laws at the event, reported The Indian Express. Police said that all five were bull tamers and that the matter was being investigated.