By Sushil Kutty
So, the ‘South’ is not the same as the ‘North’ is, and that is as old as independent India. But, this was the first time a Prime Minister of India took the trouble to remind the ‘South’ that it stood at a permanent disadvantage vis a vis the ‘North’. Any other person or even luminary and he/she would have heard “the gall of it” or some such gall usage. But then, this was Prime Minister Narendra Modi and there’s no saying what’s gonna happen. The Prime Minister was holding forth to voters at a rally in Telangana which is where politicians have been making tall statements in recent weeks, from Rahul Gandhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even Sonia Gandhi.
Loaded statements, actually. First, Rahul Gandhi spoke of “jitni abaadi, utna haq” in the wake of the Bihar Caste Census. Let’s not forget Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ears are extremely sensitive to the words ‘Caste Census” which he associates with his long-term bete noire Nitish Kumar who is back in the reckoning thanks to the ‘Caste Census’ and the likelihood of it going national and nuclear.
After the Bihar Caste Census, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been forced to look for his own ‘Brahmashtra’ and there is a likelihood he thinks he has found it in delimitation based on population. Delimitation is due in 2026 and ideally should have been left alone for now, but Modi could not wait as every passing day is bringing him closer to Armageddon and today’s crisis has to be addressed today itself, not left for till tomorrow. Simple.
Also, the ‘South’ has been already showing signs of agitation over the delimitation issue. The fear was it could end up with South representation in Parliament falling drastically. Modi played on this palpable fear. He told the rally in Nizamabad, Telangana, that after delimitation based on population, the South “will lose up to 100 seats in the Lok Sabha” as that is what the South will be entitled to if Rahul Gandhi’s “Jitni abaadi, utna haq” formula is applied.
Doesn’t that amount to punishment for keeping the population within applicable bounds unlike in the states of the North which cannot keep their britches buttoned up? States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, even West Bengal, for that matter. Rahul Gandhi’s “Jitni aabadi, utna haq” shot out of Modi’s mouth and echoed at the Nizamabad rally. For how long will Prime Minister Narendra Modi be able to keep calls for a national caste census at bay? The opposition INDI-Alliance is not going to let go of the issue easily.
“The country is now talking about the next delimitation. It will mean that wherever the population is less, the Lok Sabha seats will come down, and rise where the population is high… The southern states have achieved remarkable progress in population control, but will stand to lose heavily if the Congress’s new idea of rights in proportion to population is implemented… South India stands to lose 100 Lok Sabha seats… Will South India accept this? Will South India forgive the Congress? I want to tell Congress leaders not to fool the nation. Make it clear why they are playing this game,” the Prime Minister said, playing cat among the pigeons.
It is not for nothing that Russian President Vladimir Putin calls Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “very, very wise man”. Modi put the ball in Rahul Gandhi’s court, seeking clarity on whether the INDI-Alliance was with or against South India, adding “Jitni aabadi, utna haq” will leave South India dwarfed by North India in every which way possible. This is like playing with fire but the North’s grip on India is total and a reckoning on that point is about time and inevitable.
The Prime Minister should be thanked for bringing up the issue. The North is where the BJP is electorally strong and the South has repeatedly rejected the BJP, the so-called Hindu nationalist party of Modi. Delimitation based on population will benefit the BJP but the Prime Minister wants the BJP to register in the South in his lifetime. Delimitation will leave the Congress fewer Lok Sabha seats, but Modi speaks for the ‘South’ because he wants the ‘South’ to reciprocate to the BJP.
Now, it is up to the Congress to decide between fewer Lok Sabha seats in its southern bastion and the “BJ-Party” wallowing in the huge rise in Lok Sabha seats that delimitation based on population will enable. It can be argued, however, that this whole thing about “north is BJP and south is Congress” has been blown out of proportion and the Prime Minister is only trying to be too clever by half rattled as he is by the unity in the INDI-Alliance and the likelihood of more states going for caste census and his own anti-incumbency weighing his chances for a third time down. In any case, delimitation is in 2026, long after the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. (IPA Service)