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HomeNews ReportsCongress ecosystem plays up 'north-south' divide after humiliating poll drubbing in Rajasthan, MP, and...

Congress ecosystem plays up ‘north-south’ divide after humiliating poll drubbing in Rajasthan, MP, and Chhattisgarh

Congress suffered a huge setback with the losses in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The defeat, however, precipitated the Congress ecosystem to fuel regional chauvinism and ratcheting up the 'North-South' divide, which involved denigrating the Hindi siders as 'uneducated' and 'ill-informed' because they voted for a political party that has cooked Congress' goose.

Following the humiliating losses in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh in the recently concluded assembly elections, the Congress ecosystem tried to rationalise the setbacks by amping up a dangerous narrative: stoking up the north-south divide and deepening fissures within the Indian society.

For decades, Congress and its ecosystem relied on pitting one caste and one religion against the other to further its political ambitions and maintain its grip on power, even if that means fomenting unrest and fuelling social disharmony.

Such divisive politics helped Congress remain in power for five decades, but ever since Modi came onto the national scene and upended the long-ossified methods of the Congress government, which included dismantling the caste divisions and providing a collective vision that bridged existing differences and brought people from different walks of life together, Congress and its ecosystem had been desperately seeking to find an issue that it could use to divide the society and cause a dent into BJP’s burgeoning vote share.

Therefore, when the BJP delivered an embarrassing pasting to the grand old party in the assembly elections in three states, namely, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, a despondent ecosystem and its dispirited members, also identified as ‘darbaris’ and ‘coolies’ on X, formerly known as Twitter, quickly took to social media to brush aside the electoral setback by ridiculing and insulting the people of north India because the results of the three states did not went the way they wanted them to be.

A raft of social media users from the Congress ecosystem, including Congress leaders, resorted to inflaming the ‘north-south’ divide, a political construct long championed by the divisive parties in southern India to whip up regional chauvinism among the masses and ward off the threat of national parties making inroads in their home turfs. But for the Congress supporters and ecosystem, playing up the north-south divide was an easy way out to rationalise away their mortifying poll-drubbing after the rare political triumph in Karnataka, which had instilled an air of arrogance in Congress supporters. 

As trends of the assembly election results solidified at around noon on Sunday, Congress leader Karti Chidambaram tweeted, “The South.” This was after Congress was reduced to a shadow of its former self in Madhya Pradesh, lost Rajasthan, a surprising but emphatic loss in Chhattisgarh, but stormed its way to power in Telangana.

So Congress leaders and supporters alike proceeded to safeguard their supreme leader, Rahul Gandhi, and pin the blame for the losses on north Indians because they did not elect their party to power. Several Congress propagandists and IT cell members dissed North Indians, claiming that they travel to South India for more prosperous life and better jobs.

Paranjoy Thakurta Guha, infamous for the recent NewsClick-Chinese funding row, also pushed the leftwing propaganda theory that the election results have widened the North-South divide. 

Many others trashed the populace of the states in which Congress lost in elections as lowly literate, lower female literacy, Hindi speaking, and BJP-voting.

BJP registered a landslide victory in Madhya Pradesh, winning 163 seats out of the 230-seat state assembly. In Rajasthan, too, the BJP dislodged the incumbent Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government by racking up 115 seats. In Chhattisgarh, where political pundits had predicted Congress’ return to power, the BJP pulled off a magnificent victory by winning 54 seats, nine more than the number required to form a government in the state.

The stunning victory of the saffron party was a resounding rejection of the Congress party’s poll campaign, which promised to conduct a caste-based census—another exercise in dividing the society—should it come to power in the states. 

As it turned out, the borrowed idea of conducting a caste-based census didn’t inspire the voters to rally behind the Congress. Instead, the voters were more enamoured by the promises made by PM Modi and his integrity, which tilted the scales in BJP’s favour. 

Realising that their rhetorics around caste-based census failed, the Congress ecosystem swiftly activated to segregate the society with yet another divisive narrative: the North vs South divide. 

As a part of this political campaign, scores of Congress sympathisers and supporters insulted and ridiculed the voters who rejected Congress and opted for the BJP. They disparaged northern Indians using the pejorative ‘cow belt’ and claimed that South India has long been paying for the “uninformed” and “illiterate” choices made by their northern counterpart. 

Seemingly, according to the disparagers, north Indians vote for the BJP because they are illiterate, uneducated, poor, backwards, Hindi-speaking, and supporters of Hindutva. What such presumptions reflect is the condescension and intolerance that the Congress ecosystem harbours for those who don’t align with their ideological beliefs. 

Instead of humbly accepting the public mandate and gracefully accepting their party’s rout in the state elections, the Congress ecosystem resorted to inflaming regional rifts and insulting those who did not vote for their party. 

The aim for such an exercise is two-pronged: To fuel the regional divide with the hope of capitalising on it in the subsequent elections, most notably the 2024 general elections, and to protect the Congress leadership, dominated by the Gandhi family, from public scrutiny. But to fulfil these myopic objectives, the Congress ecosystem finds no qualms in denigrating the north Indians and casting them as uneducated, uninformed, illiterate, Hindi-speaking, and bigoted. Only time will tell if such a divisive political policy will pay any dividends to the Congress party in the months to come.

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Amit Kelkar
Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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