Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday alleged that South India received ‘step-motherly’ treatment under the Modi government and added that the south will play a key role in voting out the BJP-led NDA government and ‘overwhelmingly’ side with the Congress.
Tharoor also emphasised that party president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Kerala's Wayanad was to send a message that under Congress rule, the concerns and aspirations of southern states will not be ignored at the Centre.
"I think the south will definitely play an instrumental role in deciding the political fate of the country, particularly in the context of voting out the present ruling dispensation, under whose tenure, the south has an understandable case of step-motherly treatment under the Centre," Tharoor told PTI in an interview.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP also alleged that in the last five years of BJP rule, there has been a ‘widespread assault’ on the spirit of cooperative federalism which has held the country together since Independence.
"This is partly on account of cultural factors such as the beef ban and the drive to impose Hindi as a national language, but also because of larger issues such as the uproar regarding the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission which has implications on the financial and political security of the southern states," he said.
Tharoor, who is seeking a third straight Lok Sabha term from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat, also asserted that there will be a coalition government at the Centre after the elections and that the coalition is more likely to be UPA-3 rather than an NDA-3.
Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat went to polls on April 23.
"The fundamental fact that the performance of the BJP in 2014, where they secured 282 seats, is based on simple mathematics, a performance that is impossible for them to repeat, even if they had been highly successful in government, which they were lamentably not," he said.
"Given how poorly they performed in government, the scale of the frustration and disappointment with their performance is immense and is likely to result in a significant reduction in their seats," he claimed.
Tharoor contended that the BJP will be forced to turn to regional parties for support to form a government, but most of those potential partners would be unwilling to offer their support, given how their concerns and voices were "diminished and marginalised" under the Modi-Shah regime of the last 5 years.
"Many of those who had joined the NDA got their fingers burned -- many subsequently left their erstwhile alliance with the BJP or openly bickered with them. This sends a clear signal that allying with the BJP comes at a heavy price," he claimed.
Meanwhile, Tharoor has sparked a controversy by showering praise on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for his “genuine and far-reaching interest” in Indian history, saying that it was “disappointing” that it took a Pakistani leader to remember Tipu Sultan.
On May 4, Khan had paid tribute to Tipu Sultan, praising the 18th-century ruler of Mysore for preferring to die for freedom rather than "live a life of enslavement".
“Today 4th May is the death anniversary of Tipu Sultan - a man I admire because he preferred freedom and died fighting for it rather than live a life of enslavement,” the Pakistan PM had tweeted.
Responding to his tweet, Tharoor tweeted: “One thing I personally know about @imranKhanPTI is that his interest in the shared history of the Indian subcontinent is genuine & far-reaching. He read; he cares. It is disappointing, though, that it took a Pakistani leader to remember a great Indian hero on his punyathithi.”
With PTI Inputs