As reports of the Left’s near-total decimation in the elections came, a Leftist intellectual muttered, “You have to give it to Tamil Nadu. Must be Periyar and his innate rebelliousness…” and trailed off.
Leftists from Kerala used to poke fun at Dravidianism. They called it a fake ideology that spawned ridiculous symbolism, theatrical politics, and hero worship. But their own bastion has been shaken in this election. The Congress-led UDF has swept the polls in Kerala and it was its turn to win, yet the BJP has retained its voteshare in Kerala, and the Sabarimala issue has to an extent reset the political discourse in that state.
Across India, the BJP has retained its strongholds and expanded into areas it was not strong, barring say Jammu & Kashmir. But Tamil Nadu is a holdout. The BJP lost the lone seat it had won contesting as part of a smaller alliance in 2014. The campaign was explicitly conducted by the AIADMK-BJP-led alliance as a mandate for Modi. From the chief minister to local BJP candidates, everyone projected the election as a vote for Modi. Just as in other states, the BJP tried to foreground the central welfare schemes such as Mudra loans. Yet, the combine lost. The DMK-Congress-led alliance swept the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu.
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