Every political party in India has its core ideology. While that of the ruling BJP is Hindutva, regional parties are based on various exclusivist identities. So, the DMK in Tamil Nadu promotes ‘Dravidian’ distinctiveness, while there are others based on caste like the RJD and Samajwadi Party. The Congress has become reduced to the ‘divine right’ of the Nehru-Gandhis to rule. However, the leaders know this is not enough, particularly if they get elected to power. They also need to provide their version of good governance. In the context of the BJP’s dominance at the present, it has become even more imperative for the other parties to perform well.
The response of the Tamil Nadu and Bihar Governments to reports of migrants being allegedly attacked in the southern state shows how critical image management has become. Bihar sent a fact-finding team to examine the matter, while the host state quickly claimed that it was all misinformation spread by a conspiratorial BJP. On the face of it, this is an exemplary response and indicates the sensitivity of the governments involved towards the well-being of migrants, all the more so when one considers the fact that the affected community is not part of the Tamil Nadu electorate.
At the same time, it is important to understand that – despite all the talk about an increase in migrant population – the states of the south are greatly dependent on it for functioning of their industry and the economy. Were there to be a sudden exodus and a large enough number chose to stay away, the human resource shortage would be a near disaster. There are many sectors that cannot function without the relatively cheap and uniquely skilled workers. To get an idea, just imagine what would happen to Uttarakhand’s infrastructure development if migrant workers cease to arrive from other states, even Nepal.
So, it is compulsion as much as human concern behind the quick and ‘sympathetic’ response of the DMK government. This is democracy and economics at work, which is a good thing. It serves as a timely reminder for the ideological demagogues – election rhetoric is one thing, reality quite another. India has become more united than the superficial view might present!