24 July, 2024

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Modi’s Strategies & Engagements In Tamil Nadu In Recent Times

By S. Sivathasan

S. Sivathasan

No Prime Minister of India has engaged himself or herself with Tamil Nadu so often, very intimately and so extensively as Narendra Modi. His second term is noted by an ever- expanding citizenry in the state becoming closer to him emotionally. Among the top notch from the centre who interact often with the noteworhy of Tamil Nadu are Amit Shah, Nadda, Piyuz Goyal, Nirmala Sitaraman, Jaishankar and Nitin Gadkari. Official relationships have evolved into better understanding and personal sentiment. More enduring was that Modi has related himself to the people most successfully. It manifests in the receptions he gets overwhelmingly, unfailingly and so enthusiastically.

Whatever the greatness of the national political leadership in Delhi, pragmatism and acceptability in the state by the polity counts for much. Even as the BJP was consolidating its countrywide hold, the weakest party link which was  in Tamil Nadu was growing in tandem. This mighty force is now a challenge to the party in the seat of power. In March 2023, the State President Annamalai sensed his party’s strength as decisive enough for it to go it alone henceforth.

To meet the day of destiny, the President has no less than 11 months ahead of him. The party cadres are bristling with confidence and the voting public growing by the day. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister with their fund of experience have given a free hand to Annamalai and extended their blessings to his plans and strategies. 

He is destined to be at the helm of the state’s progress for a quarter century or may be less. Why not more? Mother India may call him to the centre to paint on a larger canvas.  To the state of Tamil Nadu and her citizens, the day of redemption is shortly at hand – as early as in May 2024. From that time the voice of Tamil Nadu will have a renewed resonance in the Lok Sabha. It will be a prelude to the first clean government in 2026, to be established in the state after 1969.  

Among the strategies of Modi for his success among his people is the timing of events. Annamalai’s excursion to Sri Lanka as Modi’s pick could not have been better timed. As a Tamil from India he established a rapport with Sri Lankan Tamils in their areas of concentration in the Hill Country and in the North.

Even better timed was Modi’s hectic visit to Tamil Nadu on 8th &9th April this year. Antecedent to the visit was a well appointed engagement of the Governor of Tamil Nadu Hon. RN Ravi, speaking pointedly to IAS aspirants of Tamil Nadu. Quite a few official stand points of the Government were very well presented through the aspirants to reach the civic society. This was followed by a Tamil cultural event arranged by the Governor with a cross section of Tamils participated. Both were in the hall of the Governor’s residence. Have the Dravidian parties demonstrated their affinity to Tamil?

Preceding them was the archeological excavations in Keelakarai four years ago in southern Tamil Nadu. The artefacts and other finds bespeak a great civilization together with the Tamil language that flourished not less than half a millennium before the Christian era. In a growing complex of structures they are now on display. How much Modi exults in them is what astonishes Tamil Nadu.

In the latter part of his first term, Modi increased the central grant to all federal units quite substantially. Tamil Nadu being the second largest economy and possessed of good administrative and technical capacity sought heavy contributions from the centre to support what the state offered. Many of the projects had high visibility. In consequence they had popular acceptance. An efficient public service together with capable contractors delivered.

Modi had a catalogue of large projects with heavy outlays to declare open or to inaugurate. The spectacular Chennai Airport, ultra – modern vehicle park, captivating Central Square Chennai, Vande Bharath from Coimbatore to Chennai, Chennai Metro Phase II with JICA funding, Chennai-Andhra- Bangaluru highway (under construction) and many more. He also mentioned the launching of multi-Million and multi-billion rupee projects. This recent progress nailed to the counter DMK’s decades old rant of “North is flourishing, South is languishing.”

In recent times, South India has assumed greater strategic importance regarding India’s security. That the soft underbelly in the south has greater vulnerability to India is better appreciated by India now than in earlier times. In the last few centuries this danger was at play with the Portuguese, the French and the British vying for a share in India’s fortunes. In current times it is the ever expanding might and influence of India that is unsettling nations in the Indian Ocean. Of particular relevance are the littoral ones like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Maldives and a few more which are in or near the coast of India in the Indian Ocean. Should also be included the two important Pakistan ports of Karachi and Gwadar in the southern coast.

In this context, a serious anecdote needs to be quoted. In the latter part of 1976, the Foreign Affairs segment of BMICH was declared open by KPS Menon of India. He was a distinguished ICS officer, a great Diplomat, a Confidant and Advisor to Nehru and a well-known author. He was also a contemporary of SWRD Bandaranaike at Oxford. 

In his speech he alluded to a 20-year prognosis to be made by a committee of learned scholars constituted by the government of USA. The subject to be studied being how the world will be in the two decades – seventies and eighties. In the report was a statement “India will grow very fast, SHE WILL BECOME A DANGER TO HER NEIGHBOURS”… Then the speaker expressed his view in a humorous tone. “This is not to suggest that India will become a danger to Sri Lanka”. The packed BMICH burst into Laughter. But I did not. To me the prospect was real in the far future. No time was specified. It is yet to be is what I perceive. Stirrings from India’s might are already visible.

Modi’s well-crafted priority is balanced growth of India for which installing BJP governance in the states of the South is a condition precedent. Not permitting South Indian States to be brought under the specter of great powers like China or the United States is fundamental to India’s political and military strategy. Tamil Nadu claiming most attention in this political plan has been much in evidence. Time span available for success at the impending Lok Sabha elections is a brief one year. The best man identified for formulating the strategies and galvanizing the voting public in Tamil Nadu is Annamalai and this truth is hidden from nobody.

In the immediate present his services have been arranged by the top personages in the centre for the Karnataka state election in May ’23. He has already plunged himself, starting from March, addressing large crowds in Kannada language. With his 10-year tenure in Karnataka, he is said to know the state and her citizens all too well. On 8th April when Modi was to be in Chennai, he was instructed by the PM himself to proceed to Delhi and with others including Amit Shah, finalize the list of candidates for Karnataka. In the list, around 60 sitting MLAs were kept out and new faces replaced them. It was disclosed a day before that as many as 86 constituencies out of 224 will come under his surveillance. What a responsibility just a month ahead of the elections. A developing bond between North and South is a matter for deep thought.

Due to the interplay of several electoral forces, victory is very crucial for the BJP, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The impact of the results on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections cannot be discounted. Annamalai asserts that BJP will win. If so, a stunning victory in Tamil Nadu in the wake of the disclosures about the DMK and their shattering effect on that party at the Legislative Assembly elections  can be foreseen.          

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Latest comments

  • 9
    2

    Either the writer has chosen to be self-deluded or has become a hack writer for Hindutva fascism – or both. He seems to be labouring under the illusion that Tamils in Sri Lanka are ignorant of the dark turn India has taken since Modi’s BJP took over. India’s democracy, lauded for its emphasis on secularism and pluralism, is under great threat. Minority communities are under attack as Modi’s government tries to impose Hindu-Hindi domination in the governance of the entire country. Modi has the necessary credentials: it has been proven that he was responsible for the cold-blooded murder of over 2000 Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat riots when he was the chief minister of that state. It is well known that Modi is a follower of the fascist RSS ideology of Hindu Fundamentalism which is the polar opposite of the world renowned Indian spiritual tradition known as Hinduism. What a pity, Sivathasan has become a salesman for soiled, counterfeit goods. The sad irony is Sivathasan is advocating for Sri Lankan Tamils India’s variation of Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism. That is what BJP’s rule in India means for the non-Hindu, non-Hindi speaking communities and states. Sivathasan’s father known as “KADAVUL” for his spirituality must be turning in his grave.

    Hindu Hinduism which is the polar opposite of

    • 8
      0

      ASD,
      “The sad irony is Sivathasan is advocating for Sri Lankan Tamils India’s variation of Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism.”
      Good point.

    • 6
      0

      ASD,
      Thanks, for the well-articulated point – relative commonality of ‘Hindutva’ BJP and SB culture dominance in SL, which most agree needs to be changed!!??
      No equivalent to Secularism practiced in India hitherto.
      Fully agree with you

  • 9
    1

    “Hindutva fascism threatens the world’s largest democracy”
    “In India, fascism is reinventing itself. It has crept through Hindu nationalism – Hindutva – and now poses a serious threat to Indian democracy”
    .
    https://theloop.ecpr.eu/hindutva-fascism-is-threatening-the-worlds-largest-democracy/

    • 11
      0

      “Modi’s well-crafted priority is balanced growth of India for which installing BJP governance in the states of the South is a condition precedent.”
      Really? How is it then that Gujarat, which the BJP has ruled for ages, still has a poverty rate four times that of Tamilnadu and sixteen times that of Kerala?

    • 2
      1

      ASD,

      While I am opposed to the BJP’s ideology, I don’t think exaggerations by critics, especially those in the West, help.

      Many people in India support the BJP because Congress is too beholden to the feckless Gandhis and is said to be too corrupt, and the BJP has come to be known as pro-business and pro-growth. Also, RSS has argued, though not very convincingly, that Hindutva is rooted in the Indus Valley civilizational values, not explicitly about the Hindu religion. Regardless, connecting them to the Nazi ideology based on any views held during the colonial era is overblown rhetoric that will be dismissed by even those Indians who are opposed to the BJP.

      Did Vajpayee, Sushma Swaraj, Nirmala Sitaraman, and Jaishankar come off as fascistic? A pragmatist can be a critic of the BJP and still find a modus vivendi to work with them on certain issues.

  • 6
    0

    The Tamil voters in Tamil Nadu and the Sinhalese voters in Sri Lanka both share certain common traits. They will vote repeatedly, election after election for the same politicians, despite knowing very well they are big rogues who steal the public’s money. Both sets of voters are real Modayas!

    • 2
      3

      Are things very different in the USA or for the matter the UK?

      • 0
        0

        Yes SJ, as an example one that I know personally – Airbus was fined in 2017 4 Billion Dollars following an extensive corruption investigation in the UK France and others. The Serious Fraud Office in the UK sent the evidence it had to the Sri Lankan Government of the involvement of senior Sri Lankan politicians regarding illegal payments made for Sri Lanka Airlines and Mihin Lanka. I am sure that you know the names of most that were involved in receiving “commissions” for both these airlines. The Government of Sri Lanka promised to do something and set up a Presidential Commision on February 14, 2018.
        From The Morning newspaper “President Maithripala Sirisena has extended the term of office of the Presidential Commission to inquire into allegations of large scale fraud and malpractices in SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering Ltd and Mihin Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, to February 15, 2019” So what has happened to this and how many have been arrested or fined?
        Best Regards

  • 2
    0

    I would like to remind the essayist- a classical scholar the following lines……

    Timeo danos et dona ferrentes………..
    I fear the Greeks even when bringing gifts.
    In this instance Greek must be replaced by Indian.

  • 2
    2

    I am of the view that the writer, S.Sivathasan has presented the correct ground situation in Tamil Nadu. Majority of the Tamil Nadu are getting frustrated daily on hearing the lies of the DMK. Moreover, leaders of DMK, Kamala Hassen, Seeman (real name is Simon), Vaiko are all non-Hindus and criticize Hinduism. Recently Stalin wanted to allocate seats for converted people from Hinduism which has annoyed the majority of the Hindus in Tamil Nadu. Further, the manner in which Hindu temples are managed by the Pan-DMK Hindu Board, the staging of Periyar statue in front of Sri Rangam Temple, the appointment of priests to Hindu temples, the failure to send blessings to Hindu festivals, etc, have already angered the 85% Hindus of Tamil Nadu. Finally, the people in Tamil Nadu had come to know and are furious as to how Kanimoli, Alagiri, Thirumalvalavan and a few DMKers joined hands with Mahinda Rajapaksa to celebrate the killings of about 150,000 innocent Tamils. At the same time Annamalai is taking all adequate measures to redress the hardships of the Tamil Nadu fishermen and most probably Kachchativu will be retrieved before the next election. Mention should be made that Kachchativu was gifted to Sri Lanka with the blessings of Karunanidhi who had neglected the aspirations of the Tamil Nadu people.

    • 2
      0

      “most probably Kachchativu will be retrieved before the next election”
      I hope that’s sarcasm. Mr. AR is such a comedian.

      • 0
        0

        “I hope that’s sarcasm. Mr. AR is such a comedian.”
        Not all comedians are clever with sarcasm.

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