PM has joined the 'north vs south' debate with a tweet that took the internet by storm
A DMK MP's remark in Parliament has added fuel to the 'North vs South' debate that has been raging since the BJP's poll wins in the heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and the Congress's victory in Telangana.
The BJP's critics claim it is the Hindi heartland where its ideology finds resonance, and that the southern part of the country has rejected the party. The BJP says the 'North vs South' debate is divisive and reeks of its rivals' reluctance to accept poll setbacks.
'North vs South'
Earlier this year, the Congress won the Assembly polls in Karnataka, snatching from the BJP its only foothold in the South. The Congress victory in Telangana consolidates its position in the South. Among the other southern states, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are held by the Left and the DMK, respectively. Andhra Pradesh, however, is ruled by the YSR Congress party, which has backed the BJP on crucial national issues.
For the BJP, victories in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh put the heartland states completely under its control. Besides these three states, the party holds Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh -- all of immense political significance. The 'North vs South' construct also feeds off the cultural and linguistic differences, and higher GDP, higher literacy rates and lower population in southern states. Those pushing the 'north vs south' argument also point to migration from the northern states to southern states for employment.
As trends on counting day indicated that the BJP was winning in the heartland states and the Congress in Telangana, Congress leader Praveen Chakravarty posted on X, "The South-North boundary line getting thicker and clearer!" Congress MP Karti Chidambaram posted just two words "the South". Several prominent critics of the BJP pointed to high literacy rates in the South and suggested that the BJP's policies and ideologies only manage to convince votes in the northern part of the country. Others said the 2024 poll fight will be a fight between 'north vs south'.
These posts sparked a huge row, with BJP leaders accusing Mr Chakravarty of pushing divisive politics. He deleted the post later, but the debate did not die down. Mr Chidambaram tried to steer clear of the row. On Mr Chakravarty's post, he said, "I have not suggested anything like that. It is up to everybody's imagination to interpret it any way they want it to. I am Indian, more than anybody else. All I said was 'The South', I do not know why people have to get very excited about it."
PM Joins BJP Pushback
Top BJP leaders slammed Mr Chakravarty, chairman of Professionals' Congress and the party's data analytics department, for his 'north vs south' post. BL Santhosh, BJP's national general secretary, said, "They always keep two cards ready. Now they have taken out second card." Kerala BJP president K Surendran said that the Congress had adopted the "separatist narrative" after failing on their regular capsules of "Hindu party, caste politics, EVMs and freebies".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the debate with a post on X that took the Internet by storm, thanks to emojis used. Commenting on a journalist's tough take on the 'north vs south' argument and other arguments being propped up to explain the Congress's setbacks in the heartland, the Prime Minister wrote, "May they be happy with their arrogance, lies, pessimism and ignorance. But... Beware of their divisive agenda. An old habit of 70 years can't go away so easily. Also, such is the wisdom of the people that they have to be prepared for many more meltdowns ahead."
Row Reaches Parliament
The 'North vs South' debate was stoked by DMK MP DNV Senthil Kumar's remark on Hindi heartland states in Lok Sabha yesterday. The comments drew strong criticism from the BJP, DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and ally Congress. BJP leaders said Mr Kumar's remarks amounted to "hate speech" and warned that the voters will "wipe out" Opposition bloc INDIA - of which DMK is a part of - in the general elections next year. Union Minister Anurag Thakur slammed the INDIA bloc over the remarks, accusing them of insulting "Hindu, Hindi and Sanatan Dharma" and backing divisive ideas.
Drawing fire, the DMK MP has apologised. "Commenting on the results of the five recent state assembly elections, I have used a word in a inappropriate way. Not using that term with any intent, I apologise for sending the wrong meaning across," he said in a post on X. The DMK said Mr Stalin pulled up Mr Kumar for his remarks and said the party had always insisted on the need for a dignified approach while making public remarks.