It has been two months since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the general elections a second time over. How they pulled this off in spite of their fundamentalist far-right ideology is a question posed by many in Tamil Nadu. The answer lies in actions like that of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in the past week.
DMK nominated Udhayandhi Stalin as the party youth wing secretary. This is why the BJP won the general election: it was not the tampering of EVMs, the promise of a better India, or the politicisation of the Pulwama terror attacks but the reinforcement of dynasty politics at a time when the country is tired of the widespread nepotism, which turned the tide in BJP's favour.
BJP has understood this aspect of the voter’s mindset. Looking back, BJP made sure that they fielded their toughest, seemingly working-class candidates against Congress’s political heirs. How else did Rahul Gandhi lose in Amethi, which has been the foothold of Congress for decades? It is not difficult to find Smriti Zubin Irani’s biographical videos online. It explains how she grew from a humble background and rose to be one of the topmost leaders in BJP.
Similarly, in Thoothukudi, BJP’s grassroots party worker Tamilisai Soundarrajan, who rose to the position of state president overthrowing the 'most hated' representative of the party — H Raja, was fielded against Kanimozhi, the daughter of Tamil Nadu’s most-loved patriarch.
Modi’s past as a tea stall owner and the lack of political backgrounds for many top leaders of BJP is well-known. Nirmala Sitaraman’s case, even though she didn’t contest in elections, is a stark example of how BJP plays the caste vs class debate. This is the message that has been doing the rounds since Sitahraman rose to national prominence for her ‘humble’ background - “Nirmala Sitharaman was born into a poor Brahmin family. Her father worked for the Indian Railways. She went on to graduate from JNU college and worked hard to become the first female finance minister of India. She even worked as a sales girl once. On the other hand, look at all the rich candidates of Congress.”
However, it is not that BJP is entirely free of nepotism. But what the party is attempting here is very clear: they are covering their tracks and appealing to the common masses which the Left has stopped doing abruptly in the past few decades. The Left, in their struggle to power and individual capital, have forgotten that their politics is about the people and not themselves.
Every ideology has a method. And the method usually changes with time. BJP has started using leftist methods to achieve their right-leaning politics efficiently. Every chaiwala not only thinks but very well knows that he can become the prime minister of India only if he works for it. An educated woman now feels that there are chances for her to be in power and make decisions of her own for this country. And that is the reason for the huge success of BJP.
The Left, on the other hand, has taken up methods that will make Marx, Ambedkar and Periyar turn in their individual graves. For example, left-wingers called out Tamilisai for not being as beautiful as the DMK candidate Tamilachi Thangapandian, who according to many deserved to go to the parliament because of her immense beauty. This sentiment was echoed by 'star-harasser' Radha Ravi and the now DMK Youth Wing Secretary Udhayanidhi.
This trend, however, is very risky for the marginalised people of this country. The BJP is projecting itself to be the people’s true representative when all of it is just an electoral facade. For example, it’s phenomenal that in India there are currently 78 women in the parliament which is the highest in India’s history. But what is wrong here? Rewind to 17th January 2016: Rohith Vemula writes a suicide letter and hangs himself from the fan in his hostel. It comes to light that the HRD ministry, under the leadership of Smriti Irani was a chief factor in this suicide. On 26th February 2016, she justified her decision in the Parliament.
And where did Nirmala Sitaraman work as a sales girl? In a top furniture shop in London. And just in case you got this wrong, she had to relocate to London because she married Parakala Prabakar, who was pursuing a degree at LSE, an ivy league college equal university in London. Prabhakar’s father was a close associate of former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao. Prabhakar himself has been in politics for decades. Therefore, neither Sitharaman, nor her politically connected husband are in anyway impoverished.
Not much needs to be told about Modi and Amit Shah’s alleged criminal background — one allegedly involved in the 2002 Gujarat riots and the other in the extrajudicial killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. These grassroots leaders and fresh faces are all trained by a RSS rulebook which espouses casteism, communalism and brahminical patriarchy. So whichever first-time BJP politician wins and how many ever BJP women ministers enter the Parliament, the end result is fascism. They are just a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
People of Tamil Nadu know all this. A long history of ideological transformations has led the state to believe in concepts based on equality, rationality, social reform, anti-casteism, anti-communalism, and women’s freedom. Here, Nirmala Sitharaman or Smriti Irani or Modi or Amit Shah or even Tamilisai cannot win because it is strongly etched in the people’s mind that they are just tools of a larger Hindutva structure. And that is why DMK swept the polls in Tamil Nadu. It is not because of their so-called anti-caste stance or Stalin’s persona or Karunanidhi’s legacy.
But by nominating Udayanidhi, it looks like DMK has lost its way. It's sad that Tamil Nadu is moving in the same direction as the rest of India. The 'Raja Raja Cholan debate' that started a few days back is a notable feature of the Tamil people’s evolving mindset. They want to see people like themselves in power. They do not want to subscribe to the self-serving methods of the Left. They are not letting any ideology go unquestioned — even if it shakes the very basis on which it is built. That is why the Chola Kings who are usually lauded for their magnanimity towards the Tamil people are now being criticised for their monarchical traditions (the benefactors being the King and his cronies) which excluded a majority of Tamils.
This analogically explains the situation in Tamil Nadu today. This debate clearly saw the people divided into two groups: the ones that believed in the transforming capabilities of the Dravidian ideology and the ones that intend to just exploit it for their own benefits.
The only rule that can revive Left ideology in India is for it to let go of its nepotism, casteism and patriarchy. It is time they revisit the ideological basis on which they were formed. The need of the hour is for them to understand that it is Periyar’s ideology for which people in Tamil Nadu vote and not some random son-of-the-party head, not even if he is an actor in Tamil films. This is not accepted whether it is the anarchist Raja Raja Cholan or the democrat Stalin.
Updated Date: Jul 15, 2019 09:03:01 IST