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Business News/ Elections / Will BJP's fate change? How Tamil Nadu, other southern states may steer destiny of PM Modi's ‘Abki baar 400 paar’ goal
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Will BJP's fate change? How Tamil Nadu, other southern states may steer destiny of PM Modi's ‘Abki baar 400 paar’ goal

The BJP faces challenges in gaining support in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu. While a poll of opinion poll suggests significant gain for the saffron camp in Tamil Nadu, it is not an absolute win.

PM Modi unveils BJP's 'Sankalp Patra' for 2024 Lok Sabha elections. (REUTERS)Premium
PM Modi unveils BJP's 'Sankalp Patra' for 2024 Lok Sabha elections. (REUTERS)

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: A poll of opinion polls released on Wednesday projected significant gains for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in the upcoming general elections.

The southern states of India have been seemingly impermeable for the BJP, whose 2019 poll record resembled an almost wipe-out, hinting at a more assertive north-south divide in case the saffron party returns to power for its third straight term.

However, the poll of opinion polls by NDTV says the BJP might be able to bag two seats in Tamil Nadu, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a staggering 10 visits in the past eight weeks.

The five southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Telangana, and the union territories of Puducherry and Lakshadweep, constitute India’s most economically prosperous region, according to an Al Jazeera report.

The South contributes more than 30 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Despite PM Modi’s pitch that his government has helped boost the Indian economy, the saffron camp had failed to impress the voters in the southern states.

The BJP had come away empty-handed in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, and lost the constituencies of Puducherry and Lakshadweep.

Parakala Prabhakar, an economist and the husband of Finance Minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman, had said the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 would reflect a “north-south divide".

BJP's battle in Tamil Nadu

The NDTV poll of opinion polls predicts that the Congress-led INDIA bloc will lead in Tamil Nadu with CM MK Stalin's Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) bagging 33 seats. The AIADMK could get only four seats, the poll of opinion polls predicts.

Tamil Nadu and the larger south India have remained immune to the religion-driven politics that have traditionally characterised the BJP. Tamil Nadu’s politics has for decades been shaped by anti-Brahmanical sentiments.

With 39 seats, Tamil Nadu sends the largest contingent of parliamentarians from the south to the Lok Sabha.

PM Modi's Tamil Nadu Push

PM Modi has left no stone unturned in trying to woo the Tamil voters for the Lok Sabha Elections 2024.

Starting with installing the erstwhile Chola Dynasty's Sengol in the new Parliament building, the BJP and PM Modi have also tried to accuse the DMK of being anti-Hindu.

Modi also revived a dispute over Sri Lanka’s Katchatheevu Island, a rather emotive subject in Tamil Nadu, to blame the Congress.

In the lead-up to the election, PM Modi, to appeal to a larger voter base, used artificial intelligence to translate his Hindi speech into Tamil in real time for audiences.

Modi also exudes confidence in the BJP's poll performance in Tamil Nadu. “This time, the BJP’s performance in southern India will astonish everyone," he said. 

The Periyar Factor

One of the early idealogues of the Dravidian movement was EV Ramasamy Naicker – better known by his pen name, Periyar.

Periyar was critical of Hinduism and broke with the Congress. BJP leaders have frequently criticised Periyar but both the DMK and its rival, the All India Anna DMK (AIADMK), swear by his legacy.

Hindi Imposition Allegations

The battle of Tamil versus Hindi is not new. Tamil is one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world. Whereas, Hindi is a language that evolved as an Apabhramsa. Tamil Nadu, therefore, led the battle against increasing usage of Hindi, more so in bureaucracy.

Delimitation

The concerns of southern states have been amplified by the prospect of delimitation by 2026, a process through which boundaries of constituencies will be redrawn to ensure they have roughly equal voter numbers.

Because India’s south has been far ahead of the north in population control measures, the delimitation exercise could significantly shrink the south’s seats in Parliament, reducing its political power.

Tamil Nadu, for instance, could see its seats drop to 30 from 39, while northern Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, could see seats go up from 80 to 90, according to Al Jazeera.

BJP's fate in other southern states

According to political analysts cited by Al Jazeera, any political party that allies with the BJP in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Telangana, would inevitably perform badly during the Lok Sabha Elections 2024.

The poll of opinion polls says the BJP may gain a measure of revenge over the Congress in Karnataka. The NDA is pegged for 23 of Karnataka's 28 seats.

In Andhra Pradesh, the ruling YSR Congress Party will likely retain its sway with 16 of the state's 25 seats.

In Telangana, a tight three-way battle between the BJP, the Congress, and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) of former chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao could end with the Congress winning nine, the BJP four, and the BRS three. The 17th seat might go to Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM, the NDTV poll of opinion polls predicted.

How BJP performed in Lok Sabha Elections 2019?

The BJP had won just 30 of the 131 seats from the region – the vast majority of them from one state, Karnataka – in 2019.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sayantani
Sayantani is a Chief Content Producer with Livemint. Her interests are politics, war, and conflict. Off-duty, she explores cultural history and the 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed'
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Published: 17 Apr 2024, 08:56 PM IST
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