How a common political foe in Delhi united CMs of Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Comrade! That is how two chief ministers of neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala call each other.

Published: 20th March 2023 08:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2023 08:28 AM   |  A+A-

Chief ministers MK Stalin and Pinarayi Vijayan of neighbouring states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Chief ministers MK Stalin and Pinarayi Vijayan of neighbouring states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

Comrade! That is how two chief ministers of neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala call each other. On March 1, when MK Stalin celebrated his 70th birthday, Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted a photograph of the two sharing a broad smile, and heaped praises on his counterpart. “Comrade, your efforts to strengthen the Kerala-Tamil Nadu bond are deeply appreciated. Standing in defence of federalism, secularism, and our mother tongues, you have won hearts across the country,” said Kerala CM. Stalin’s response came in Malayalam, in no time. “Thanks for the greetings, comrade. Let us work together to drive out fascist forces from south India forever.”

A few days later, when the two leaders met at Nagercoil on the evening of March 6, their camaraderie was on full display. While commemorating the 200 years of struggle by women of the oppressed castes who sought their right to clothe and cover their breasts (called ‘Thol Seelai Porattam’ in Tamil and ‘Maaru Marakkal Samaram’ in Malayalam), their intense loathing for Hindutva brand of politics was barely cloaked. The flourishing right-wing genre in Kanyakumari gave them a perfect springboard for launching a fresh round of the ideological war.

What brought the two states lying on either side of the western ghats to do a Naatu-Naatu is New Delhi’s wilful descent to a regime that barely treasured the values of a well-defined federal system. They have found a common political foe in New Delhi. The inter-state love-hate bond has now paved the way for an allied war to stop the raging Hindutva chariot in its tracks. Water disputes are still fought in courts; border issues like dumping of bio-waste, and ‘trespassing’ of fisherfolk into the ‘other’ territory may have periodically strained the bhai-bhai bond. But the battle against Delhi’s stated policies on federalism, Hindi imposition, national education policy, and cow vigilantism has united them like never before. Periodic meddling by respective governors and the Revadi-culture scoff on their welfare schemes have been the side props. Never in the past have the two CMs shared such warmth and brotherhood as they do now. Meanwhile, water from Mullaperiyar and Siruvani, in Kerala, has continued to flow to the water-scarce Tamil Nadu without too much fuss.

Keezhadi, with its magnificent excavations of primeval artifacts, burial urns, and the like, have opened an enormous doorway to TN’s past, bringing curtains on the riveting tug-of-war for supremacy between Tamil and Sanskrit, and their fight on the paternity of Malayalam. Irrefutable is the thick blood link between the two states in their cultural heritage, The progress made by the two in education, health, literature, entertainment, cinema, etc., should make the Hindi belt green-eyed. Despite the acute fund crunch, the two welfare states are sternly work-in-progress, with a focus on the marginalised in the society.

Amid the changing political hues, one can’t dismiss the rising communal tension too. Minority fundamentalism is on a steady rise in Kerala, while TN is caught between Tamil nationalism and ceases-to-die caste politics. Swami Vivekananda’s notorious 19th-century yell, terming Kerala a ‘lunatic asylum’, still finds some resonance across the Ghats. Blatant caste discrimination and repudiation of ethnic cultures continue to disrupt their journey.

Can it be squarely blamed on a national party that’s struggling to make its presence felt here? The two governments need to take a close peek at the social and cultural transition so far and the impact political parties are having on it. TN can’t sweep under the carpet the growing Tamil nationalism and then let the mainstream parties casually feed into it for fear of small parties hijacking that space. A groundswell for a radical change in thinking that aids the society’s well-being and lies in perfect symphony with the country’s growth plans, ought to be our immediate priority.

Anto T Joseph
Resident Editor, Tamil Nadu


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp