South Goes North with a New Endgame

Dravidian power officially planted its flag in the heart of North Indian power last week.
Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin (Photo | PTI)
Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin (Photo | PTI)

Dravidian power officially planted its flag in the heart of North Indian power last week. As the DMK’s black and red flags fluttered in the early summer breeze on Deendayal Upadhyay Marg in Delhi where stands the BJP’s swanky, gigantic office, Tamil Nadu’s charismatic Chief Minister MK Stalin opened his party office—a first in his party’s history.

Though his illustrious and powerful father M Karunanidhi was a kingmaker, and Jayalalithaa was a formidable power who could topple Central governments, their authority did not extend North. NTR and Chandrababu Naidu joined national coalitions to further the interests of their states. Kerala never mattered in Delhi, its ministers being token presences. Now, Southern leadership under Stalin is determined to play a national role, backed by his powerful mandate.

Being a kingmaker is not enough anymore for Stalin; the throne of Indraprastha is his ultimate prize. And along with it comes a globalised agenda of economic and social reform, empowered by internationally respected advisers. The change in the Southern political metric of now and then is a meritocracy. Stalin prefers to surround himself with experts like Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan, Raghuram Rajan and Nobel Prize winners.

Knowledge is the historical bridge between generations, paved with memories. As Indian history is being reprogrammed, flash mobs of newborn scholars are juggling the hagiography of India’s freedom fighters. The focus of textbooks since 1947 has been Northern luminaries. Until the Modi Age began, our classroom icons were Jawaharlal Nehru, Govind Ballabh Pant, Sardar Patel et al. Bhagat Singh, a fierce Communist who believed in violent solutions, was grudgingly given a place by the Congress in the pantheon of heroes.

There was the pragmatic Subhas Bose, who allied with the Nazis and the Japanese to expel the British. An alternate history of India then would have been an unimaginable racial regime with the Germans gassing Indians in concentration camps and the Japanese torturing and massacring Andaman islanders, while Bose looked away.

The Indian historical syllabus has been formulated by Congress scholars and Leftist historians with ideological agendas. Kicked aside into the margins of history were giants from the South who wielded, equal, if not more, influence than their colleagues above the Vindhyas.

Congress was the writer of the ledger of freedom. There were leaders like K Kamaraj, S Nijalingappa, S Radhakrishnan, Sir CP Ramaswami Iyer and Annadurai. There were poets like Subramania Bharati, gurus like Ramana Maharshi and Sree Narayana Guru and the Siddhas, reformers like Periyar Ramasamy and warriors like Pazhassi Raja.

Until now, the big boys of South India may never have imagined such a credible challenge with a futuristic approach to North-centric power, exemplified by the economically and socially backward Hindi belt. In Parliament’s Central Hall, most Southern MPs prefer to cluster together like maladjusted magpies instead of networking with allies and opponents, which is what parliamentary work is about. Southern politicians like KCR are rooting for Opposition unity, driven by their own ambitions. But MK Stalin is engaged in giving Dravidian pride back to the people. A grammatical change in Delhi’s political grammar has transformed the narrative while the ruling establishment is obsessed with Aurangzeb and Hindunomics. Is India going South? Nope. It is the South that is coming up.

Ravi Shankar

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express