The Battle for Karnataka 2018, took on a sharp hue after Modi’s whirlwind visit late last month, and his unapologetic invite to Karnatakans to return the BJP and catch up with the rapidly developing BJP states. Predictably the Liberatti were outraged (as Narendrabhai wanted them to) and let loose a flood of by now familiar invective and hashtag #BariOluModi in Kannada – All Lies Modi. Just like they did last year after Narendrabhai put Kerala in its place by highlighting its uneven development – where the tribal regions have remained stagnant for decades.
Enter the Usual Suspects – the well- known web portals who shall not be named – adding to the chorus, affecting a professorial air, trotting out statistics, the same old game and argument that’s long since been lost. Over five years back, the Usual Suspects churned out bits and bytes in a vain attempt to prove that Modi’s leadership of Gujarat is inconsequential. Now the same crowd is trying to prove the few non-BJP governed states remaining, are better off than Gujarat. Politics defies rational expectations all the time, and if you are defending a rhetorical offense with statistics, there’s a good chance you have lost. As most of the non-BJP governed states are in the South, the Usual Suspects of course will turn to the ultimate defense – Kerala – and then to the Southern States.
Being from the South, I can only laugh.
KERALA is the worst off, as it is a typically very primitive economy dependent entirely on Tourism and People Exports. It is the most dependent of all states on foreign remittances. The imploding oil economy of the Middle East will render Kerala an economic basket case. Kerala has missed the outsourced services bus - uncharacteristically for a high socio-economic indicator state. Kerala has also missed the digital bus by a few 1000 miles. All the work going on in Kerala isn't worth more than one floor in Powai or anywhere comparable to work going on at the numerous startups in Mumbai. As for high tech manufacturing, logistics, etc forget it.
Kerala is in free fall.
Karnataka! What do we say? It's the 2nd last cash cow left for the Congress, but unlike Punjab – headed by the doughty Capt. Amrinder Singh, is headed by a thoroughly venal leadership. If not for the recent bumper monsoon, farmers would have been rioting in Bangalore. Corruption has become intolerable. Northern Karnataka continues to be an economic backwater, and the inability to drive investment in this region may lead to greater stress on the Southern Karnataka hubs of Bengaluru and Mysore. Of course, Mysore is vulnerable as the services industry there is almost entirely devoted to back office services – a declining business.
Karnataka is in decline, even if it doesn't seem so now. It will take at least 6-8 years to right the ship.
Tamil Nadu's case is tragic. It had over 45 years of political stability, helmed by just 3 CMs - Karunanidhi, MGR and J. Jayalalithaa. A very pragmatic industrial policy and an outstanding law & order force - rarely buffeted by electoral politics. But the leadership tussles in both DMK and ADMK over the last 5 years have brought economic administration to a standstill. DMK's next gen leader MK Stalin, although a worker since his teens, has already had his best days. His nephews the Maran brothers – capable though not in the same league as their late father the indefatigable intrepid Murasoli Maran– are still dealing with the fallout of the UPA years. In the AIADMK, JJ's passing has prevented the elevation of a young premier B-School graduate turned HR expert turned politician. At least 3 industrial hubs, one each for mechatronics, aerospace and digital, in planning since 2011 are now suspended. The investment has vanished, as has the opportunity. Both Chennai and Coimbatore business families are seriously looking to relocate future investments to UP, GJ and Raj.
Tamil Nadu is stagnant.
Chandrababu Naidu is a great ideas man and the bifurcation has handed opportunity on a platter. With no burden of caring for the hinterland, now part of Telangana, he is free to orient Andhra Pradesh as a maritime state. Vizag already is booming led by indian Navy's plans for mega naval bases and shipbuilding yards. Now the development of Vijayawada & Kakinada ports, will dovetail well with Gadkari's Sagarmala coastal shipping plan. Added to this the Coastal AP entrepreneurs will very likely shift out of Hyderabad, to Vijaywada & Guntur. But Chandrababu's biggest problems are a lacklustre party cadre, and a riven family leadership with little motivation for ground work.
Andhra Pradesh flatters but almost deceives.
Telangana. KCR is playing the long game and has fully factored in the eventual exit of Coastal AP entrepreneurs & the film business out of Telangana to AP. He is banking on the cosmopolitan IT industry to drive future digital forays. His planning is meticulous and leaves nothing out. Imagine, Telangana is working to compensate for the loss of even the spiritual tourism industry! Having lost Tirupati to AP, Telangana has turned to none less than Narayana himself, and is developing the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple in Yadagirigutta, two hours away from Hyderabad. This will be truly a Mahayuddha of Avatars of Srinivasa versus Sri Lakshmi Narasimha! Responding to Tirupati’s Seven Hills, Telangana plans to develop the Nine Hills of Yadagirigutta! Telengana's advantages include its CM’s sense of mission, a well-oiled party machine. Of all his tireless children have impressed, articulate and with their feet firmly on the ground. Both have a bright future in national politics, and by far are the smartest political children today.
Telangana will script the next growth story.
All Ye Haters! India needs the Modi Method not only nationally, but in every state! For a long time!