The writer T.R.Jawahar is Group Editor of Chennai-based News Today, Maalai Sudar and Talk Media publications.
‘What’s wrong with you people in TN?’: I have been bombarded with this condescending query ever since this State bucked the national trend in the recently-concluded LS polls. Not just my northern friends in media and elsewhere but even politicos of the stumped BJP and surprised Congress are asking this. Needless to say, TN has become a favoured subject of memes and trolls in north-based social media.
Indeed, while I can understand the incredulity of those beyond the Vindhyas, I can say with conviction that the proverbial three fingers point towards them. Also, TN people’s collective index finger which, incidentally, carried the indelible ink of the fatal vote – is pointed accusingly northward. TN feels more sinned against than sinning. There is an upswell of long simmering righteous indignation at the derisive and dismissive way in which the northerners talk of the ‘madrasis’ and TN’s ‘rebellious’ streak. A response is warranted.
If this State has rejected them summarily, then it is their job to reason out why. In short, it is time the ‘Aryans’ of uttar Bharath kick off their thinking process, a rethinking process rather, a process which has to begin not at the ground but from the deep sub-strata of time, culture and politics. Such a sensitive, sincere and scientific analysis is warranted not just for Modi, not just for BJP, not just for TN but for the country’s sake.
I am a resident of TN (I include Pondy in my mental realm) and I am deeply aggrieved about the past, genuinely upset over the present and scared and aghast at the prospects for my home State. The alienation and isolation – both self-inflicted and superimposed – of TN is not just painful and detrimental to nationalist-minded individuals like me but to the whole Tamil society and Tamilnadu as a federal entity.
The solution cannot be spelt out in simple prescriptions because the wound is deep and open. It calls for objective introspection, perseverance and patience and well-thought out strategies. Not just the Centre and the State regimes, but a wide spectrum of players here need to be enrolled in this marathon exercise of excising the cancerous elements that have taken root in this hoary land. TN is a tinder box and there are lighted match-sticks galore. The latest poll explosion, an implosion for NDA really, is the effect of causes that were obvious but were callously ignored.
Congress is a spent force. Since it is the BJP which is at the Centre with a thumping majority victory, accompanied by a severe, ignominious thrashing here, it is now the burden of this party and leadership to swallow this southern shame and come to terms with TN’s ground realities. The party should look beyond polls and politics at the larger picture if it is keen to ensure that the island at the southeast bottom of India continues to be Sri Lanka and not Tamilnadu. The mental secession here needs to be arrested for, in a way, TN down under is no different from J&K up above.
I am no scholar or social scientist but just a concerned and interested observer and victim. In the next few weeks, I will seek to lay out my own views under various topics. My assumption is that the ruling party and its regime have not yet removed TN from their radar. Saying this may seem prudish, but sadly that is the impression the national parties have created in this part of the country over decades: We just don’t matter to them! So, if the BJP is truly upset over its impotence in TN, it must seek to gain the confidence of the people here. It is a tall order, indeed, made taller by the new nadir, but a wholly necessary attempt.
As a born Tamilian, I can proudly say this is a State without parallel in its glories. Unfortunately, it is also a State without parallel in many unseemly goings-on. There is a parade of parallels that I will be touching upon, all of which impinge on the nation’s integrity and interest: TN, by its own right, was a parallel civilisation, deems itself a parallel nation, boasts a parallel linguistic nationalism, claims a parallel identity, has a parallel history, culture and traditions, harbours parallel agenda and aspirations, is host to parallel politics and priorities and, of course, has the most bloated parallel economy. All vis-a-vis the so-called unified national flow. Mostly contradictory, and occasionally intersecting.
So, let’s take a ride along on the TN tributary, afloat and adrift, as it meanders far and away, in the hope that someday it will merge with the mainstream. But, for this to happen, I repeat, the northern netas will have to necessarily acknowledge, accept and act upon the core credo that TN has always been, is and will ever be different and difficult.
So, dear jis, welcome to TN and take a tour, replete with detours. Then listen to us, go back and think things over. Our votes won’t come easy and certainly, not anytime early!
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