A Fictional Political Conversation
It's a cliché, but it's a cliché because it's ubiquitously true that the penetration of the internet has brought India closer than ever before. If something is said in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, don't be surprised if reels of it go viral in Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh.
What that also means is that political parties will be caught out sooner than ever if they try to drive contradictory narratives in different parts of the country or if they are part of an alliance that stands for mutually opposing views in different states.
The following conversation is fictional, but the likelihood of something like this actually playing out in real life is higher in the present than at any time before.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to a voter in Chhapra: Namaste! Look forward to your support in the elections.
Voter: Namaste! But wait! I have some questions about your INDI bloc allies from the south.
NK: This is Bihar. Do you find any of them here? I am the INDI bloc here. Don't worry about them.
V: But I still have some questions.
V: So, the DMK wanted to eradicate Sanatana Dharma. Did you speak to their leaders about that?
NK: Nothing like that. Where have you seen them say it?
The voter pulls out his phone and plays the translated clip of Udayanidhi Stalin's statement.
NK: Okay. I will see who has said what. But this is not our view. Starts to walk ahead.
V: But wait, I was reading that the DMK is fervently anti-Hindi.
NK: I've seen to that. I will not compromise on language.
V: But they owe their very existence to the anti-Hindi agitations.
NK: And I owe my politics to the legacy of Karpoori Thakur and Ram Manohar Lohia. You rest assured.
V: But I also read that when you raised this issue in the INDI alliance meet, most leaders sympathized with the DMK than with you.
Come the spring of 2024, it will get more difficult for INDI bloc parties from the Hindi-speaking states to explain the DMK's presence in their grouping to their constituents. But it's not just them who have a bit of explaining to do. The DMK has its share of answers to give also. Its handling of the floods in Tamil Nadu and the corruption charges on its ministers mean that the party is fighting a perception battle that is slowly turning against it.
Here is K Balakumar with more on that story:
Until next time,
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