Congress leader and former party president Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Kerala has stirred up Barr’s hive by making statements about the difference in the political culture of North India and South India and giving more importance to issues in the South (Context- Kerala). With this, Tu-Tu, Main-Main started in BJP and Congress. BJP has accused Rahul Gandhi of creating division in North and South India for votes and insulting North India with Ehsan Faramoshi. Congress is defending Rahul Gandhi.
But the real question in this political tussle is whether there is, really, any fundamental difference between the political culture of the states of North and South India? Do voters of South India give more importance to issues and try to understand them closely and deeply? Do voters decide more wisely in the states of South India? Is this just the personal experience of Rahul Gandhi or is there a solid basis behind this understanding?
There is no doubt that there are many differences in economic-socio-cultural terms between the states of North India and South India. It is true that the states of South India have surpassed the BIMARU states of North India in terms of economic and human development. The assumption is also true to some extent that most of the states in the south are better governed than most of the states in the north.
But in the matter of political culture, there is no fundamental difference between the states of North and South India, barring a few superficial and ostentatious differences. It is true that the politics of most of the states of South India is dominated by regional parties as compared to the states of North India. But in the last few decades, regional parties have not only emerged in many states of North India but their influence has increased. For more than two decades, two big states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been in power with regional parties and their influence continues.
Beyond the geographical-socio-economic-cultural difference, there is also a major difference in the political culture of North and South India that linguistic identity is an important factor in the politics of South India as compared to North India. But barring this, there are more similarities between the states of North and South India in terms of political culture. In fact, the biggest factors defining the political culture of the two Khitan states are the politics of identities and mobilization based on caste and religion. Along with this, the dominance of money power and muscle power is the same in both the north and south.
The truth is that as much as caste and religious identity politics and their domination dominate the political culture of North India, it is as much overshadowed by the political culture of the states of South India. Just as the mobilization of castes defines the social base of national and regional parties in the states of North India, castes play a major role in the social base of national and regional parties in the states of South India as well.
Even the social identity of most political parties in both North and South India regions is linked to a powerful caste or group of castes in that state/region. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party is identified with the Yadav caste and Muslim, the BSP’s Scheduled Castes and the BJP’s Hindu, and especially the upper castes and the ultra-backward castes. Similarly, the main social base of RJD in Bihar is Yadav-Muslim, JDU’s Kurmi-most backward castes and BJP’s Hindu and upper castes.
But the politics and parties of the five states of South India are equally dominated by castes. For example Reddy caste in YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh and Kamma caste in Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, Lingayats in BJP and Vokkaligas in JDS in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu each major and middle caste has its own party. . Similarly, politics and parties in Telangana and Kerala are no exception to caste mobilization.
Not only this, the way the political dominance of the backward castes has increased in the politics of North India in the last two and a half decades and political parties of each caste have emerged even within the backward castes. That process has already been completed five decades ago in the states of South India. In the politics of South India, the anti-Brahminical backward caste movement had dominated the politics in the sixties itself.
Similarly, the political culture of religious polarization on the basis of religious identity, especially Hindutva in North India, which flourished in the 90s and has managed to establish its political dominance in this decade of the 21st century, is affecting South India as well. . It is true that the politics of South India, except Karnataka, has not yet been swept away by the politics of religious identity, especially the politics of Hindutva and polarization, but it is not completely untouched by it either. The way DMK and AIDMK leaders have been competing for temple visits in Tamil Nadu in recent months, it is evidence of the wind blowing from North India reaching South India as well.
Not only this, it is difficult to say who is more ahead in the use of money power and muscle power in the political culture of North India and South India. But what is certain is that the misuse of money power in the states of South India especially Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Karnataka and Telangana is much higher than in most of the states of North India. According to former Chief Election Commissioner Naseem Zaidi, money is spent like water to buy votes in the states of South India. In a state like Tamil Nadu, elections in many assembly constituencies have had to be postponed often due to misuse of funds in the assembly elections.
Although the politics of the states of South India is different from the politics of the states of North India in three respects, it is not in the case of politics of issues. The difference between the two is that three factors are more dominant in the southern states than in the north – one, linguistic identity, second, the politics of populist gifts (freebies) and third, the influence of film actors/actresses. These three are most dominant in the states of South India and govern their political culture. They do not have much effect in the states of North India.
As far as the politics of issues is concerned, there is no fundamental difference between the states of North and South India. There is no doubt that the issues of economic development and public welfare have an almost equal impact in the politics of the states of North and South India. But the issues are for political propaganda and air, tossed to woo voters, while beneath the surface, caste and religious polarization as well as money power and muscle power are used to mobilize voters.
In fact, the issues are just a mask and caste, religion, linguistic identity and mobilization along with money and muscle power are the facts of pan-India political culture. For this, along with Congress party of Rahul Gandhi, BJP and other political parties are also equally responsible, who instead of pursuing the political culture of issues and ideas, carried forward the political culture of caste, religion, language, region along with money and muscle power. Is. After all, who is interested in the issues? Everyone here is busy asking the caste of the monk.
Voice : Shabnam Khan
*These are the personal views of the author