Cockfighting: politicians rule the roost

No action was taken by the law-enforcing authorities in AP even after a TV channel showed people’s representatives merrily participating cockfights.

Cockfight gambling, known as Kodipandaluin Andhra Pradesh, is particularly popular in the cash and paddy-rich Godavari districts of the State. The cockfights are usually organised on the eve of Sankranti festival in January by the leaders of the affluent Kamma and Kapu communities, which dominate politics across the State. The cockfights last for two to three days after Sankranti.

Every year cockfight gambling activities are conducted in the State despite the police warning against them. People gleefully participate in Kodipandalu by defying ban on them by the Andhra Pradesh High Court and the Lok Ayukta. In some places the police usually choose to look the other way since in most cases the fights are patronised by politicians or their staunch supporters.

Leaders of the ruling Telugu Desam as well as the Opposition YSR Congress (YSRCP) encourage cockfights because of public craze. During the season betting would go on involving crores of rupees and lakhs of rupees changing hands on the spot even as onlookers go crazy and merrily participate in the gambling activity.

Some VIPs including politicians such as Mr Maganti Babu, Member of Parliament and Mr Kodali Nani (YSRCP legislator) were shown by a popular Telugu TV channel attending the cockfights. The channel also aired visuals of cock/sheep fights with many people’s representatives in attendance. Yet, the police had failed to take any preventive action. If at all they showed any semblance of seriousness it was only as token measures. As an added incentive an LED TV set was installed at a venue. A State Minister and as many as 30 TDP legislators were present at cockfights organised in and around major cities such as Vijayawada and Kakinada and Eluru, West Godavari district headquarters.

An interesting feature of this year’s cockfight gambling was that the activity had spread to the politically fertile Krishna district, where the new State capital Amaravati is going to be built close to Vijayawada City. For many people who gather in crowds at various cockfighting venues it was great fascination to watch ferocious and strong animals engaged in fights. Some enthusiasts participating in cockfight gambling would be seen holding wads of currency notes. Mostly the sought-after animals are brought from the State’s northern districts of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam.

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Cockfights often result in serious injuries to the well-fed fowls. Most often the seriously injured fowls are withdrawn by their masters. They also die on the spot. The brutality is severe because sharp weapons like knives are tied to their limbs. The ferocious birds are fed nutritious items like almonds, pistachios and cashew nuts for at least six months before they are ready for the fights. When one of the fowls is injured the crowds would generally presume that the other would win.

The people who make a beeline to Kodipandalu at popular venues in Krishna District come from the neighbouring districts of Telangana.

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