South looks to do a peace deal with North on June 4

As the two-month-long election theatre is all set to wind up its show, real issues have been buried alive in the political graveyard.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

Post elections, South India lives in an epistemic bubble. Loud speakers have long fallen silent. Political gig workers have been rendered jobless once again; their exhausted generals are off to a paid holiday. EVMs have been gathering dust inside strongrooms and not-so-strong rooms for over a month, with cops and CCTVs failing to ward off rumours that cast aspersions on the aura of their invincibility.

Ever since the election juggernaut, presided over by the new-age Rip Van Winkle, moved up north in vainglory, slander and bigotry have been an integral part of the SOP. Religion is the game changer, and the vicissitudes of political narratives are writ large in the saffron-clad terrains. Not even a pretence to make it seem less blatant. In the first three phases, there were some semblances of sanctity: the narratives veered around economic growth, development, corruption, family rule, and mangalsutra.

Now, the new temple in Ayodhya stands tall among the greatest feats of the government. The BJP declares that the intolerance of the INDIA alliance towards the temple, if any, stems from its minority appeasement. Amit Shah is convinced that if the Opposition comes to power, it will put a “Babri” lock at the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

On his part, PM alleged that the southern allies of the Congress insulted UP and the Sanatan Dharma, forcing MK Stalin to slam “Modi’s imaginary tales and bags of lies” as well as “ECI’s silence”. It may sound inane that BJP, which for long opposed southern states’ demand for a higher share of tax kitty and derided it outright as an effort to split the country into North and South, has indulged in stoking confrontations between states.

BJP accuses the Opposition of appeasing their vote bank and that they are trying to change the Constitution and give quotas meant for SC, ST, and OBC to Muslims. The spirited PM, who is flying across the country to attend a record number of rallies and roadshows, has squarely blamed the opposition for its divisive agenda.

Of course, he invoked Aurangzeb to blame that the Shehzada (of the Congress) does not say a word about the atrocities committed by the nawabs, nizams, sultans, and badshahs. His comment that the Congress does not remember the atrocities committed by Aurangzeb, who destroyed thousands of “our temples” sums up the raison d’être of BJP’s realpolitik.

As the two-month-long election theatre is all set to wind up its show, real issues have been buried alive in the political graveyard. Demands for press conferences by the Election Commission after each phase of polls and transparency on polling data have fallen on deaf ears, giving the impression that ECI is in deep slumber. Except that it has woken up at regular intervals to issue notices.

The last one was to issue a general memo to the mischievous toddlers to stay clear of communal statements and taunts on the Constitution, without naming any offenders. The ECI doesn’t look a tad miffed about the image of the once-independent organisation being sullied like never before.

Under South India’s seemingly placid façade, a political volcano is silently ticking away. Has BJP’s focus on winning South India to match up its potential loss in numbers in the North (from the last elections) been a futile exercise? In 2019, even during the pro-incumbency wave in the wake of Pulwama and Balakot, BJP/NDA won only 30 seats in South India out of 130 LS seats, with 26 coming from Karnataka alone. In 2024, the ruling party burned the midnight oil and gave it a shot to improve its groundswell, but the numbers may fall far short of its expectations.

Anto T Joseph

Resident Editor, Tamil Nadu


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