Tamil Nadu will vote today in the 2024 general election. The talking point for the last few months has been the BJP’s assault on the Dravidian citadel.

This is because of the Prime Minister’s repeated forays there and the energetic endeavours of a young former police officer, K Annamalai. Their immediate aim is to increase the party’s vote share.

Regardless of what happens in this election, the BJP’s ambitions in TN have caused major schizophrenia amongst Tamils who have lived in North India for two or more generations. My family is amongst them.

But despite our long domicile in the North, North Indians regard us as South Indians, or more simply as ‘Madrassis’, because much of peninsular India was under the British Madras presidency. In Tamil Nadu, however, we are regarded as NRTs or Non-Resident Tamils or ‘Dilli-kara’.

We are thus a minority in both places. It has made us develop a split personality. Being a minority in both the North and in Tamil Nadu has also created a culturally hybrid Tamilian.

Truth to tell, a very large number of the third generation Tamils in the North can’t read or write Tamil. Indeed, they barely manage to speak it.

But we build and go to Tamil temples and everyone speaks in Hindi or Punjabi there. “Oy, Sommi, Puliyodharai kithe gaya si?” Sommi being the diminutive of Somanathan.

There is a general belief that NRTs are favourably inclined towards the BJP but that’s a myth. The goodwill which the BJP enjoys amongst them is restricted mostly to the Brahmins and that too not all of them. Many NRTs call it an ‘Indee’ party.

A question that’s often discussed amongst the older generation is how would the NRTs vote if they were to vote in Tamil Nadu. Would they vote for the BJP, as they do in the North or would they vote for one of the long-established political parties of the State including the Congress?

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