The Southern Frontier -1 - April 08, 2019

When it’s come to voting and the election, the South Indian states always have eluded the BJP due to several language related and cultural factors. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi sweeped North India but the BJP could not infiltrate the Southern states on its own even while they have made gains in Karnataka and have opened its account in Tamil Nadu. In 2019 the Narendra Modi government facing incumbency at centre but the anti-BJP wave is still strong in the Southern states despite BJP not being the ruling party in any of these states.

Electoral Prospect of the BJP in the South Indian States

In 2014, the BJP was the party of hope, an alternative to the Congress which was ruling at the centre for 10 years and had its government in Kerala, the united Andhra Pradesh, and was part of the DMK alliance from 2004 to 2013 which was facing massive anti-incumbency. In this background, with the backdrop of Modi’s image as a person who is against the established political class, who will bring development, BJP managed to fetch a few alliance partners and capture seats in the Southern states. But currently, BJP is straying at single digits in all the five states combined, which is a serious concern for them. Why is the BJP finding it difficult to get an alliance partner in South India and why have their former allies left them?

Regionalism trump over pan Indian party

1. Aggressive Hindutva: BJP’s aggressive Hindutva push doesn’t go well among the allies in the South. Similarly, the Southern States share several cultural customs and traditions which are completely different from the North. In this context, the BJP pushing for a pan Hindu religious identity is too much for the common citizens of South India.

2. Language: Since 2014, BJP has tried in many ways to push its long-standing ideological position on Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan. Hindi has been forced in many ways, like keeping pure Hindi names for government’s schemes and the changing of government’s social media handles to Hindi. These have been viewed as an imposition by the common citizens of the country. This has also triggered back the anti-north India and anti-Hindi sentiments in Tamil Nadu, for example.

- Dr. V. Lenin Kumar