AA Edit | South India asserts itself

Each of the five states of south India has a different ruling party now

All politics is local politics. Politicians need local skills to secure their seats, and this is how the Congress, though a national party, vaulted to victory in the Karnataka elections because it possessed a far better grasp of what the southern state, with its own unique mix of voters and issues, wanted.

Regardless of the wishful thinking of idealists about the need to obviate the play of caste, creed, and religion in Indian politics, they were a distinct factor in Karnataka elections. While one national party took a tumble in having ignored, or even insulted, a large section of voters who are Lingayats (17 per cent of the population), the Congress showed a far better understanding of carrying all sections with them, including the Lingayats, the Vokkaligas, the OBCs and the dalits, of whom Malikarjun Kharge is the president of the party.

If there is a lesson to be learned even for the victorious Congress of the moment it is that all politics is local and the Assembly polls in the rest of the year will again reiterate this point. It cannot afford to make the mistake of projecting its national leaders of the Gandhi family as more important than the local leaders who can sway the voters with their own brand of ‘connect’.

Nationalism might have much to commend itself for in stressing the importance of keeping the social fabric together. But the unitary approach of ‘one nation, one language’ may not work beyond a point in India. Certainly not in south India, which takes on an even greater appearance now of being from another planet altogether in comparison to the Hindi belt.

Each of the five states of south India has a different ruling party now. If there is a common thread running through them it is a resistance to the imposition of things perceived to be alien, including language. And the South largely rejects the divisiveness that the Hindutva brand of politics, which might find resonance in the Hindi belt, brings in its wake. The Karnataka verdict, with a clear vote for a majority, reaffirms much of what the South stands for.

Next Story