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Did Modi misread south India?

May 23, 2019 20:44 IST
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In the next two years, reveals says R Rajagopalan, Modi-Shah will make a strong effort to woo the south.

Modi in Coorg

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi is welcomed in Coorg, Karnataka, during his election campaign. Photograph: Narendra Modi/Facebook

If there is one lesson to be learnt from the 2019 election, it is that south India marches to a different political tune.

There are seven major regional parties in the south -- the Telugu Desam Party, the Telangana Rashtriya Samithi, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Janata Dal-Secular, the Yuvajana Shramika Raithu Congress Party and the Praja Rajyam Party.

The TDP's Nara Chandrababu Naidu paid the price for walking out of the National Democratic Alliance -- he had benefited from the Modi wave in 2014.

While he spent time trying to gather support against Narendra Damodardas Modi in Delhi, Lucknow and Kolkata, Yeduguri Sandinti Jaganmohan Reddy -- angry, since he had been ignored by Rahul and Sonia Gandhi after the death of his father, then Andhra Pradesh chief minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy in 2009 -- was steadily chipping away the TDP's base.

The leads for the Andhra Pradesh state election show the YSRC ahead in 147 seats and the TDP reduced to a minuscule 27.

In the Lok Sabha elections, Reddy's YSRC is leading in all 25 seats, which could make it the third largest party in the Lok Sabha after Rahul Gandhi's Indian National Congress.


Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda, whose party the JD-S claims Karnataka as its stronghold, has been Modi-swept away. Will the precarious JD-S-Congress-led state government survive this tsunaMo? Only time will tell.

In neighbouring Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao's TRS -- which claimed a landside victory in the recent assembly election -- has been battered by the Modi wave. The state has 17 Lok Sabha seats, of which KCR was hoping to win at least 16. Instead, the TRS is leading in just 8.

In Tamil Nadu, Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin's DMK has allied with the Congress; the DMK is leading in 36 of the state's 39 Lok Sabha seats. The AIADMK is leading in just one.

Kerala has refused to look at the BJP, with 15 of the 20 seats looking like they will go to the Congress.

Even as Modi and Amit Anilchandra Shah celebrate their massive victory, they have not forgotten the south.

They will soon turn their attention to Tamil Nadu, which goes to the polls in 2020. Their aim is to wrest Tamil Nadu from the Dravidian parties, just like they did Tripura from the Left Front in 2018.

They may also woo Jagan Reddy, who is already saying he is willing to support anyone who will support Andhra's interests.

What is clear is that, in the next two years, they will lay the groundwork to ensure south India gives the BJP at least 50 of its 132 Lok Sabha seats in 2024.

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