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This article was first published 10 years ago

8 reasons why a surprise awaits Modi down south

May 13, 2014 13:55 IST

Image: BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi and film star Rajinikanth share a light moment in Chennai.
Photographs: Babu/Reuters K G Suresh

‘In the newly formed Telangana and in Seemandhra Narendra Modi remains an important factor so far as Lok Sabha elections are concerned.’

‘B S Yeddyurappa has a strong base among the Lingayat community in Karantaka but his alleged involvement in corruption is making a dent in his comeback. The Modi factor is saving the BJP from a total wipeout.’

‘In Tamil Nadu, the support of actor Vijaykanth and Modi’s much-hyped meeting with super star Rajnikanth is expected to swing many votes in favour of the BJP-led alliance.’

‘Will BJP be able to make its debut entry to Parliament from Kerala?’

South India is likely to give a surprise verdict, says K G Suresh, a senior journalist based in Delhi.

The political factors and issues in northern India and the south of Vindhyas have always been poles apart, much like the differences in food, attire and language.  Down south, people are more emotional and passionate about issues and personalities unlike their northern counterparts. Nevertheless, corruption, price rise and caste are common factors on both sides of the divide.

One more common factor this time around is Narendra Modi. Hitherto the Bharatiya Janata Party was always considered a northern entity with the recent exception of Karnataka. But thanks to the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee, the party is today in the reckoning in Seemandhra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and of course Karnataka.

Kerala remains a distant dream for the saffron party. The state has witnessed the Congress coming to power even in the post-Emergency elections held in 1977, when the party was virtually wiped out in the entire country. This time, too, the Congress appears to be in an advantageous position over its rivals in God’s own country.

Chandrasekhara Rao's TRS has upper hand in Telangana

Image: The announcement of creation of a separate state of Telangana was welcomed with jubilant celebration
Photographs: SnapsIndia


The state under the leadership of the charismatic Y S Rajasekhara Reddy played a significant role in the formation of the United Progressive Alliance II government.

With his unfortunate death in an air accident, there was a vacuum in the state leadership and the demand for a separate state of Telengana, which YSR was able to rein in during his tenure, gathered momentum.

The succession battle that followed saw the late leader’s son Jaganmohan Reddy being ousted from the party and subsequently emerging as a force to reckon with during the by-polls. The Central Bureau of Investigation probe followed by his arrest only served to lend him a larger than life image.

Realising that it had nothing to gain in the Seemandhra region, the Congress, after much dilly-dallying, took the drastic step of dividing the state. The Congress was also led up the garden path by the wily Chandrasekhara Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, who promised to merge his regional party with the Congress once his demand was met. But later, he backtracked and refused to even have a pre-poll tieup with the Congress.

While the BJP has always been a votary of smaller states and supported Telangana too, Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party engaged in a flip-flop, sometimes supporting and sometimes opposing the new state. Jagan was perhaps the only leader who vehemently opposed the bifurcation of the state.

Thus, in Telanagana, all the three parties -- the TRS, Congress and BJP -- are fighting separately to take credit for the state’s creation.

The TRS, which led the movement for separate statehood, apparently has the upper hand while Modi remains an important factor so far as Lok Sabha elections are concerned. The Congress strongholds are likely to back the party as a token of gratitude. Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen led by Asaduddin Owaisi is expected to retain its Hyderabad seat.


Seemandhra in favour of development mascots Chandrababu, Modi

Image: Chandrababu Naidu, Modi and Pawan Kalyan share a dais during a rally

In Seemandhra, there is a palpable sympathy wave in favour of Jagan, who is being helped in his campaign by his mother and sister who are repeatedly invoking YSR’s name. There is also a feeling that injustice has been meted out to him. Jagan has also been promising a lot of freebies if elected to power.

On the other hand, there is Chandrababu Naidu, the former 'CEO' of Andhra Pradesh, who is credited with turning the city of Hyderabad into Cyberabad and for infrastructural development in the state. People have seen his work and the educated youth who see a bleak future before them with Hyderabad going to Telangana, have high hopes that Naidu can deliver, coupled with his new found bonhomie with another development mascot, Modi.

Both of them have held several joint rallies together. Naidu is also telling the people about the possibility of Jagan going back to jail over his alleged involvement in scams as he is currently out on bail. The Modi factor is helping the BJP in the seats it is contesting and its tieup with the TDP has made it a formidable alliance.

Former Congress Union minister and NTR’s daughter D Purandeshwari is a BJP candidate while actor Pawan Kalyan, who is also Congress leader Chiranjeevi’s brother, has been actively campaigning for the TDP-BJP alliance. Thus, we see a neck-and-neck fight in Seemandhra.

Interestingly, whether it is KCR in Telangana or Jagan in Seemandhra, neither of them have ruled out support to Modi in the post-poll scenario and have kept their options open.

In Karnataka, Siddaramaiah may end up doubling Congress's tally

Image: Supporters of the Congress celebrate as they hold their party flags outside a vote counting centre in Bangalore
Photographs: Reuters


One of the reasons behind the BJP’s debacle in the last assembly elections, which saw the Congress emerging victorious, is attributed to the exit of B S Yeddyurappa from the saffron party. The Lingayat strongman has now returned to the party, which has also struck a deal with B S Sriramulu, a close associate of Bellary’s Reddy brothers.

The big political questions in Karnataka are whether Yeddy would be able to revive his magic and restore the BJP to its old glory. What will be the fate of the Janata Dal-Secular led by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, who has been seeking votes calling this his last election? Will the honeymoon with the Congress government led by Siddaramiah still continue in the state?

Whether it has been Kalyan Singh or Uma Bharti, once out of the party, no senior leader has been able to revive the magic so easily. Yeddy still has his strong base among the Lingayat community but then politics is all about perception and irrespective of whether he is guilty or not, his alleged involvement in corruption has become part of the national narrative. And that is making a dent in his comeback.

On the other hand, Siddaramaiah being a Kuruba has the support of the backward and Dalits without alienating the influential Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities. A sizeable section of the Vokkaligas still support the JD-S and its patriarch Deve Gowda but he is increasingly becoming irrelevant due to his apparent weakness for his kith and kin and the inability to groom a second line leadership in the state.

Thus, in the absence of any major scam and by ushering in several pro-poor schemes, Siddharamiah has been able to stem any anti-incumbency and may end up doubling his party’s previous tally while the BJP clearly is not in a position to retain its existing seats but the Modi factor is saving it from a total wipeout.


Amma expected to lead tally, BJP in second position, Congress 4th

Image: A boy wears a mask of Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa during a campaign in Chennai
Photographs: Babu/Reuters


It goes to the credit of Modi that the BJP, which has so far been dependent on the support of either of the Dravidian parties, has been able to stitch up a five-party alliance, which is giving a tough fight to both the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in several seats.

Hit by a deluge of corruption charges and succession battle between the brothers Alagiri and Stalin, the DMK is fighting a battle for survival against Jayalalithaa, who has started nurturing national ambitions.

While so far, Amma has been content with being the kingmaker, this time around she is not averse to the idea of being the Queen herself and is fighting all the seats alone. Her birthday cake in the shape of Parliament and references to her as future prime minister in hoardings by loyalists indicate her inclinations.

Considered to be a good friend of Modi, of late she has been critical of the Gujarat model apparently unnerved by the BJP’s alliance with several smaller parties in the state, including the influential Pattali Makkal Katchi of Ramadoss and Vaiko’s Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The support of actor Vijaykanth and Modi’s much-hyped meeting with superstar Rajnikanth is also expected to swing many votes in favour of the BJP-led alliance. Nevertheless, Amma is expected to lead the tally and it would not be a surprise to find the BJP-led alliance in second position and the Congress at a poor fourth position.


The only state in south India where Congress is expected to do well

Image: In Thiruvananthapuram, Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor is up against BJP's O Rajagopal
Photographs: Reuters


This is perhaps the only state in the country except some northeastern states where the Congress is expected to perform extremely well, thanks to the sharp differences within the Opposition Left Democratic Front and the consolidation of the minority votes.

In fact, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, one of the key constituents of the LDF, has parted ways with the alliance and joined hands with the Congress party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, giving a boost to the Congress's prospects. The differences within the predominant Communist Party of India-Marxist between former chief minister V S Achutanandan and party Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan cost the party its government in the last assembly elections.

Though the BJP is putting up a good fight in constituencies such as Thiruvananthapuram, fielding former minister O Rajagopal against Shashi Tharoor of the Congress, and in Kasargod, it remains to be seen whether the party would be able to debut in Parliament from the state, which stands traditionally polarised between the Congress and the Communists.

Congress dominant in Puducherry, Lakshadweep

Photographs: Reuters


Puducherry, like all Union territories, also has one representation in the Lok Sabha. But it is distinct in the way that it has its own legislature.

The Congress has been the dominant force in the Lok Sabha elections. It has won the former French colony nine times, including in 2009. The AIADMK, PMK and DMK have won the seat at least one time each. In 2009, Union Minister V Narayanswamy won from the seat and has been renominated despite opposition from within the party.


The 2014 Lok Sabha polls will see an intense contest among the AIADMK, DMK, PMK, the Congress and N R Congress. Statehood is a key issue here and the N R Congress headed by Chief Minister N Rangaswamy is pitted in a tough contest with the AIADMK here.


The Congress is expected to retain this party stronghold currently held by 31-year-old Hamdullah Sayeed. Interestingly, the BJP has fielded Sayed Mohamed Koya from this pre-dominantly Muslim seat while the UPA ally Nationalist Congress Party is in a close contest with the Congress. Other contenders are the CPI-M, the Samajwadi Party and the NCP, which was the runner-up in the last Lok Sabha elections.


For the lone seat in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, there was practically a straight contest between the Congress, which had been winning the seat continuously till 2004 with the exception of 1999, and the BJP, though there are also nominees of the NCP, Bahujan Samaj Party, CPI-M, Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress.

The Congress contestant Kuldeep Rai Sharma is pitted against Bishnu Pada Ray, the sitting MP, of the BJP. 

The Bengali votes in north and middle Andamans along with Tamil in South Andamans and Nicobarese in the Nicobar group of islands hold the key to the battle in the multi-cultural island.

The Modi factor prevailing across the nation is expected to tilt the votes in favour of the sitting BJP MP.

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