Handle the regional identity issues with care from Odisha to Kashmir

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | May 24, 2024 IST

 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state

Arun Joshi

BJP is making repeated assertions that it would protect the cultural identity of Odisha if it comes to power in the eastern state where simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections are underway. The party has a big political agenda in this campaign, telling the people of Odisha that that their culture and traditions have been mauled under the BJD rule, and the saffron party which has taken upon itself to be sole saviour of India, its heritage and progress, is eyeing Odisha voters by appealing to their sense of identity,   love for culture and language. This is a political game aimed at winning elections. This, however  has a flip side when the regional identity is stoked , as a   political tool against rivals, it can   impact the psyche which can have long term consequences for the national identity which   governs the country and countrymen .

 The identity politics   in a country like India blessed with cultural, linguistic, ethnic   diversity plays out in different forms and manifestations. It is not uniform, nor can it be, though the most heartening factor is that the Indian identity rules supreme with a vast majority accepting it as their ultimate future. There are certain aberrations but not in any way holding any significance.

 The core of this politics has two fundamentals – one is the regional and another is national. The regional identity is invoked to define special place of the people and their land to assert that their culture be preserved against the onslaught by outsiders. The outsiders can be anyone, including the peoples from other parts of the country. Second, is the adjustment of this regional identity into the national identity as India and Indians?

 There should not be a clash between the two, but by stoking the regional identity and claiming that the leaders of the region were behaving in anti-identity way is an irony. The BJP, however, sees that its version of the regional identity should be read the way it wants, rather than the way the region has grown and its identity has been preserved or evolved over decades.

  Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik would say that they know it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who    has been chief minister for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state.

 The political parties   at the national level have the   right to push their campaign   against the regional parties and their politics but that should also reveal as to how be them different and more capable of furthering the ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity of the state. The alternatives have not been placed on the table, because the economic struggle of the people for a decent life is going on. Their quest for economic stability cannot be described by free ration and other such announcements.

 A broad look at the   scenario across the country – the identity politics is relevant from Kashmir to Kanyakumari . Even within Kashmir the identity issue is split. There is nothing like collective ethnic, cultural or linguistic identity in the Valley. The Valley’s plains are Kashmiri speaking, while peripheral areas close to borders and especially north-west, it is dominated by Gujjars and Bakerwals and Paharis.   And, in the case of Kashmir , BJP   believes it has conferred Indian identity in the real sense to the people of Kashmir who, it feels were   swayed by uncertainties in the name of Kashmiri identity .The rules that the ruling party at the Centre applies in Kashmir are not similar to what it is pushing for in Odisha . It is taking regional identity in Odisha but in Kashmir, it is keen on the national identity than the regional one.  Kashmir is willing to accept the Indian identity, as it has seen many merits in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 of August 2019, but they are not willing to surrender their centuries-old identity to BJP’s concept of majoritarianism. Kashmir is overwhelmingly Muslim and its fears have grown since the abrogation of Article 370 that has snapped their exclusive rights to land and jobs. South is keen to maintain its identity as also the political preferences 

 It would be better for both the regional parties and national parties, particularly BJP, to walk the talk on identity as different yardsticks on the regional identities can result in huge crisis. The regional identities need to be handled with care.

Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)

Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.


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 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state
 Perhaps BJP and its leader Naveen Patnaik  would say that they know  it best how to save the Oriya identity intact and make it flourish further. A politician who   has been chief minister  for 15 years would not have been in power had he been perceived anti-Odia or a failure to preserve the regional identity of his people and the state

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