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OpinionsNarendra Modi’s continuing pre-poll visits to South have yielded dividends

Narendra Modi’s continuing pre-poll visits to South have yielded dividends


BJP makes deep inroads in Andhra, marginal in Kerala and Tamil Nadu

By Sushil Kutty

Telangana voted for Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Both parties shared the spoils, i.e., 17 Lok Sabha seats. But it is Andhra Pradesh which will prove crucial in government formation at the Centre, whether by the NDA or by the INDI-Alliance. Andhra Pradesh witnessed complete dominance of the NDA, not the one led by the BJP, but by the one led by the Telugu Desam Party. The TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu played his cards right and he is back in the reckoning – can play a kingmaker role at the Centre following the unexpected results of the 2024 that left Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP stranded below simple majority mark.

The number does not favour the BJP, which has fallen considerably short of the halfway mark of 272 Lok Sabha seats. Chandrababu Naidu is drawing both NDA and INDI Alliance politicians to his humble abode as the BJP ensures he doesn't ditch and the Congress hopes he switches over his affections to the INDI-Alliance. Chandrababu must be weighing his pound of flesh. Elections 2024 has proved to be a roller coaster in the South Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana with all of them combined and singly termed as the Gateway to the South. If Telangana won that sobriquet, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka also took home the title.

The BJP was, however, done in by the Hindi heartland states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar besides Maharashtra, which also proved a hard nut to crack. In fact, its showing in the South was far more heartening than its showing in the North. Prime Minister Narendra Modi went all-out gunning for the “Musalman” but it was the ‘Hindi-Hindu' who took a shot at him and ensured he missed his mark.

In Kerala, the BJP made its first Lok Sabha strike with Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi poised to win Trichur by a handsome margin and central minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar holding his own in Thiruvananthapuram against former “cattle-class-fame” Union minister Shashi Tharoor, before Tharoor retrieved the lead and took the seat for a fourth time in succession. Chandrashekhar had to settle for the “Well-played Rajeev” consolation prize.

So Kerala has been breached by saffron and it's a landmark, a watershed moment in the state's , whoever thought? However, if pure joy is the criteria, there couldn't be anything matching the Malayali's when Prime Minister Narendra Modi trailed his closest rival for half an hour. Malayalam TV channels went ballistic and the anchors couldn't hear their own voices in their own din. The urge to send-off Modi is too thick in the Malayali blood.

Tamil Nadu though made no sense to the BJP. All the time invested, first by BJP state unit president K Annamalai and then by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was for naught. The Bharatiya Janata Party couldn't break its Tamil Nadu jinx, K Annamalai's promise notwithstanding. And somebody thought Coimbatore was different. No, it was not. Annamalai's magic did not last. Carrying out a padayatra was not the same as marching into hearts. Even Prime Minister Modi's appeal to BJP workers to ensure Annamalai's victory went unheard. The DMK and the Congress got all but one Tamil Nadu seat. What's next for Annamalai?

That question is linked to what's next for Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Neighbouring Karnataka was better playing ground for Modi who will remember how Karnataka was lost in 2023 to Congress guarantees. Those were the assembly elections and these were general elections. Karnataka proved to be a face-saver and even though it did not make a difference to the BJP's post-poll status at the Centre. It did take the BJP tally to nearly 240. Farmer leader Yogendra Yadav had given the BJP at the most 260 seats and at the least 235. He has proved to be too close to the real number for the BJP's comfort.

So north and south played crucial roles. Modi had made the south key to his plans for a New , for his idea of India. The temples of South India were where he prayed for another term. The last time was at the Bhagwati Amman temple in Kanyakumari, just a short distance from the Vivekananda Memorial Rock, where he meditated for 45 long hours in direct conversation with the Swami, which the Opposition parties objected to. Now, it turns out that, maybe, Swami Vivekananda did not care to listen to whatever Modi has told him under his breath while meditating in the salty air. IPA Service



The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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