'North India shed more tears for Sridevi than South': BJP's Narendra Taneja further alienates south Indians with bizarre remark

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Narendra Taneja did his bit to further alienate the party from south India. On Friday, while appearing on a talk show, Taneja had made a bizarre comparison between north and south India, saying it was the former which shed more tears when Bollywood actor Sridevi died last month.

Taneja had appeared on a talk show on CNN-News18 to debate the central government's recommendations to the 15th Finance Commission. The government had said distribution of central funds to individual states must take place as per the 2011 Census and not the 1971 Census, as was hitherto the norm.

South Indian states had raised objections to this, saying it would reduce their share of funds. But when Taneja was asked about this and was asked if their grievances were genuine, he said there is no North-South divide, and called it the creation of the Congress party.

But that's when things got truly bizarre.

"When Sridevi died recently, north India probably shed more tears than south India. Was north India looking at the fact that she came from the South?" he asked.

Even CNN-News18 reporter Zakka Jacob interrupted him and asked, "What is Sridevi dying and north India shedding more tears than south India have to do with money?"

However, Taneja's statement is only the latest in a long series of missteps taken by the BJP regarding south India, ironically a region it has been trying hard to win over electorally.

At a time when Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah is accusing the saffron party of diverting tax revenues collected from South to fund development projects elsewhere, the BJP might find it difficult to ensure its victory march in upcoming Karnataka polls.

File image of BJP leader narendra Taneja. News18

File image of BJP leader Narendra Taneja. Image courtesy: News18

His Andhra Pradesh counterpart, N Chandrababu Naidu, had also accused the Narendra Modi government of diverting tax revenues collected from the South to fund projects in Northern states.

Similarly, DMK working president MK Stalin also wrote to Modi and chief ministers of 10 non-BJP ruled states expressing concerns on certain elements of the terms of reference (ToR) for the 15th Finance Commission.

He said Tamil Nadu will lose out on funds if the 2011 Census data is used.

Friction between the Centre and the south Indian states has risen not only over the ToR of the 15th Finance Commission, but also on a host of other similar issues.

Previously, a row had also erupted in Tamil Nadu after BJP leader H Raja's made remarks indicating that statues of Periyar could be the next to be pulled down after a Lenin statue was razed in Tripura.

Periyar, among the foremost Dravidian thinkers, is revered across south India and disparaging comments regarding him will not go down well.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Mar 24, 2018 17:04:53 IST

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