Although the BJP is not in the reckoning to form the government in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it is working hard to make its presence felt in these states’ politics. There is nothing like attacking adversaries in their home grounds to keep them off their balance. The more formidable challenge being posed by it is to the ruling TMC in West Bengal. It is here that its concept of nationhood is being tested the most. In many ways, West Bengal under Mamata Banerjee is the last bastion of what is described as appeasement politics, in which coalitions of votebanks are pandered to for the sake of power, regardless of the damage it causes to the social fabric. All kinds of harmful compromises are made to sectional interests as a result. The BJP on its part claims to treat every individual as an ‘Indian’ so that equal rights and responsibilities can devolve upon citizens irrespective of region, race or religion.
In Tamil Nadu, the best result for the BJP would be a repeat victory for its ally, the AIADMK. Here it has to combat an inherent politics of race, which poses a more formidable challenge. Although the popular opinion is that the DMK’s fortunes are on the rise, parties such as the one floated by Kamal Haasan might take away precious votes, which could impact upon the result. On the other hand, in Kerala the contest is between the UDF and the LDF, which alternate power between them every five years. Rahul Gandhi is focusing on the battle there in the expectation there will finally be a victory for the Congress and credit would go to him.
It would require a major upset for the BJP to be ousted in Assam. If things go as hoped for the party, overall, the path would be cleared for a different political paradigm in the entire nation. The opposition leaders might think that all the temple hopping is only a requirement for election time, but it might just become the new normal. The alleged neglect of Hindu and majority interests will have to be countered, while the Nehruvian Socialist top-down model of economics will have to be entirely junked. This could lead to the emergence of mainstream conservativism. This would require the forging of a new opposition – the signs of which are being seen in the reported flight of senior Congress leaders at the national level to the alternative Congress – the NCP. Such a shift should lead to social consolidation and economic progress in India over the foreseeable future.