Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday claimed that while the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam wanted to ban jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming sport of Tamil Nadu, his government ensured that it was not prohibited, reported NDTV.

“When there was a DMK government here and a UPA [United Progressive Alliance] government at the Centre, they banned jallikattu,” Modi said at a rally in Madurai. “A UPA minister said it is a barbaric practice... is that right? Is that how one speaks about an age-old tradition that is so important to Tamil culture?”

The prime minister said that when the National Democratic Alliance government came to power at the Centre and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam at the state level, they ensured that jallikattu is not banned. “Why? Because for us Tamil culture is important,” he said.

The Supreme Court had banned the sport in 2014 after concerns related to animal cruelty. In 2017, the central and state governments had passed a Bill, revoking the ban on holding jallikattu.

The Congress had promised to ban jallikattu if it came to power in the 2016 Tamil Nadu polls. However, now the party seems to be supporting the sport. In January, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had visited Madurai to watch the bull-taming sport. “The way it was done today, there was absolutely no chance of bulls getting injured,” Gandhi had said.

On Friday, Modi also hit out at the Congress and the DMK, saying that they pretend to be custodians of Tamil culture but the reality was different, reported News18. “DMK and Congress have no real agenda to talk about but they should control their lies because people are not foolish,” the prime minister said.

He also accused the DMK of spreading the mafia in the state. “You all will remember how the DMK had spread the mafia in the state, just because of one family’s internal politics,” Modi said. “Such is the way in which they function. It was the AIADMK-NDA government that has ensured that the mafia in the state no longer exists.”

The prime minister also claimed that the DMK and the Congress do not understand the ethos of Madurai and alleged their leaders keep insulting women again and again.

He pointed out that his government has provided over 60 lakh water connections under the Jal Jeevan Mission, reported ANI. “People of this region have a strong mind and big heart,” the prime minister added. “Years ago people from Saurashtra in my home state Gujarat, came here. The way Madurai has accepted them is a perfect example of ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’ [one India, best India]”.

Elections in Tamil Nadu will be held on in a single phase on April 6. Vote counting will take place on May 2.