Why BJP says Bihari migrant workers are getting killed in Tamil Nadu? Btw, they are not.

BJP Bihar alleges that migrant workers from the state are not safe in Tamil Nadu using fake news and misinformation.

On 2nd March 2023, BJP MLAs in Bihar protested inside the Bihar Assembly claiming that the migrant workers from Bihar are being attacked & killed in Tamil Nadu. They questioned the Chief Minister for wishing Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K.Stalin on his birthday and also the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar for attending M.K.Stalin’s birthday function.

The official twitter handle of the BJP Bihar had been tweeting this in a rather prolific manner. Several tweets have been made on 3rd March 2023 claiming that Bihari workers are being attacked and killed in Tamil Nadu. Prashant Umroa, a BJP Spokesperson from Uttar Pradesh had tweeted that 15 Bihari workers were beaten and hanged in Tamil Nadu & 12 of them were dead. This was also a made-up misinformation, but this has been spread purposefully in the northern states especially Bihar.

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YouTurn had already fact-checked several such videos that are shared with misleading claims that Bihari workers/North Indian migrant workers are under attack in Tamil Nadu. We have also written articles and made videos in both English and Tamil.

Tamil Nadu Police have made several public announcements and tweets busting the misinformation and the state’s Director General of Police (DGP) Sylendra Babu had also responded to the allegations and have denied them as false.

BJP’s Tamil Nadu state President Annamalai was asked about the issue in a Press meet as it is his party members from Bihar, who are raising this issue and he responded by saying that he had spoken to the BJP State President of Bihar and clarified that no such violence is brewing in Tamil Nadu. He also added that legal action should be taken against anyone who spreads such misinformation.

Yet, the BJP Bihar had been tweeting out regarding the issue. It was not some random social media users who are making these allegations, it is his own party through its official twitter handles. In one such tweet it posted a day after Annamalai’s press meet, it had tweeted a video of a man claiming that 12 workers were killed and he witnessed two of those murders with his own eyes. It is a baseless allegation which BJP’s spokesperson Prashant Umrao had also levelled as seen earlier in the article and Tamil Nadu Police have reportedly filed a case against him for it.

Despite several clarifications from the Tamil Nadu Government and Tamil Nadu Police, the BJP had been only sharpening its narrative that Biharis are not safe in Tamil Nadu and have been accusing Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that they are not able to ensure the safety of Bihari workers in Tamil Nadu.

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Tejaswi Yadav had responded on 2nd March had denied these allegations as “completely baseless and rumour mongering” which are aimed at “creating panic”. In the assembly, he sharply attacked BJP and questioned what kind of patriotism you have when you are pitting one state against another. He also pointed out that no state would tolerate if such violence were being committed.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K.Stalin had called those who spread this misinformation are against the nation and he had reportedly assured Bihar CM Nitish Kumar that the workers from Bihar will be safe in the state.

We have compiled the list of tweets that are being made by the BJP Bihar regarding these claims from 3rd and 4th March 2023.

The following image below is a compilation also includes several BJP leaders raking up this issue that Bihari workers are not safe in Tamil Nadu.

Is BJP gearing up for 2024 elections?

In August 2022, BJP had lost control of Bihar where it was ruling in alliance with Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United). After the alliance was broken, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) joined hands with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Indian National Congress (INC) in August 2022 and had been ruling the state since then. Bihar is home to 40 constituencies in Lok Sabha and along with 80 seats in the neighboring state, Uttar Pradesh. Ensuring a major chunk of this would ensure BJP’s re-election bid. So, a question naturally arises that whether BJP is prepping the northern states for a narrative, that their people are under attack in Tamil Nadu or the south in general, which would work for the party through 2024 and beyond, moving slightly away from its core Hindu-Muslim rhetoric which has been the bread and butter for the party.

Is BJP playing it both ways?

Moreover, BJP is in opposition in both Tamil Nadu and Bihar. So, it appears that they are playing both sides of the game. On the Bihar side, BJP is attacking Nitish Kumar and Tejaswi Yadav for inaction in a non-existing problem. Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, BJP and some its senior functionaries are attacking DMK and its allies for its stand against Hindi imposition, which they blame is the reason for alleged hatred for Bihari workers and North Indians in the state. Though, BJP’s state Chief Annamalai had denied such attacks in Tamil Nadu, he and several of his party members have claimed that the DMK and its allies are responsible for the narrative, which his party members in Bihar are trying to build.

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Human Migration & fear of outsiders:

Whether it is inter-country or intra country, human migration is a natural phenomenon. Almost all life forms will be drawn to a place which provides better living conditions and humans are no exception to that rule. There has always been a migration of humans from less developed places to a relatively well-developed location, either within the country or outside of the country, for better employment opportunities, better pay, better education and healthcare, better standard of living etc. In India too, we can see the trend. People from lesser developed states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand etc have moved en masse to the southern states of India or to Maharashtra and Gujarat which are relatively well developed.

Whenever such mass migration take place, there is a scope for fear among the locals. The inward migration of people from the southern border and the fear surrounding the migration was well exploited by former President of the United States, Donald Trump in his Republican candidacy for the President election through his “Build the Wall” campaign and he succeeded in building a large section of the wall that he promised, although its efficacy is highly questionable.

The inward migration of people, even if it is within the same country, usually raises several concerns for the locals due to several factors such as fear of outsiders, real & perceived competition to their employment opportunities, cultural differences, security concerns, political factors etc. Marjorie Taylor Greene, US House Representative from the Republican Party had even called for a national divorce and a ban of 5 years from voting if Democrats migrate to “Red States” which are traditionally Republican Party strongholds, from the “Blue States” which are dominated by the Democratic Party.

So, this is a natural phenomenon not unique to any one state or a country. The fear of inward migration stems mostly from ignorance, misinformation or stereotypes and stigmatization of the people that have immigrated. The inward migration can be highly beneficial to a society including increased diversity, economic growth, and cultural exchange and a continued dialogue and awareness campaigns could alleviate the problems surrounding such fears. So, if there is such a fear in Tamil Nadu or any other state for that matter, it is the duty of the Union Government and the respective states to educate the people and help in the transition.

Fear & alleged violence in Tamil Nadu:

In the case of Tamil Nadu, the fear of inward migration is being stoked by some smaller parties due to several factors which are more nuanced in addition to the simple ‘fear of outsiders’. Historically, the state has been opposed to the imposition of Hindi & domination of northern politicians over the state at the parliamentary level which are anti-federal, due to which the politics in Tamil Nadu had been circling around a philosophy it calls as state autonomy.

Even with such a history, the state of Tamil Nadu had been only welcoming of the workers, not just from Bihar or its neighboring states, but from the northeastern states as well. Although some have raised concerns and fears of workers from northern states, there has not been any systemic violence against immigrant workers in the state, especially like how the BJP alleges in Bihar.

Potential threat to the Unity of India

BJP’s buildup of this narrative of one state being against workers of another state should be seen as a threat to the unity of the nation. It could soon go out of control and spill to other states as well, creating a divide that is non-existent in the first place. BJP has mastered the art of divisive tactics and milking it for electoral gains but any such attempts in this regard has the potential to permanently weaken the unity and integrity of the nation and the party needs a major course correction to steer clear of creating such a divide, on top of the Hindu-Muslim divide that has been achieved successfully.

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Ramasamy Jayaprakash

Ramasamy works as a Senior Sub-Editor at YouTurn and writes articles in Tamil and English. He also makes videos for YouTurn's Tamil & English YouTube channels.
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