Millennial brat pack bro!

Parties Invoke Dynastic Gods

By Poonam I Kaushish

In our continuing poll nautanki this week’s flavour is pedigree. No, I am not talking about the canine variety, but our political lineage. Wherein, Parties are busy invoking dynastic Gods to reap rich political dividends. A fool-proof way for India’s polity to go to dogs!

If Indian democracy rests on one-man-one vote principle, elections are all about one family and as many tickets as one can wangle norm. Congress wins hands down offering Nehru-Gandhi’s Gen Next and other dynasts while BJP sways to the lilting tune of Bhai-Bahen and Bandhu alongside NaMo jaap.

Regional satraps NCP’s Pawar, Lalu’s RJD, Akhilesh’s Samajwadi, Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, Chautala’s INLD, Badal’s Akali Dal, Abdullah’s NC, Mehbooba’s PDP and Paswan’s LJP believe in Patni and Putra-Putri Prem!A no-holds barred gharelu tammasha which has surpassed India’s Got Talent TRP rating.  Indeed, India’s son is shining, and, how!

Notwithstanding, Prime Minister Modi’s diatribe against “parivarvad” and “kaam-dar vs naam-dar” and Union Home Minister Shah drawing lines between 55 years of Gandihi family vs 55 months under Modi, BJP too has a similar number of ‘dynasts’ as Congress.

From ex-Cabinet Ministers Piyush Goyal whose father was Party treasurer and mother three-time MLA, Maneka Gandhi and son Varun, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s son is UP MLA, ex-Himachal Chief Minister Dhumal, MP strongman Vijayvargiya, infamous Brij Bhushan of Wrestlergate and deceased Sahib Singh’s ladlas, late Sushma Swaraj, Promod Mahajan and Munde’s ladlis are in the poll fray. In Goa ex-Congress Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane’s son Vishwajit is Minister.

The entire Scindia family has smoothly transitioned from monarchy to politics: Congress late Madhav’s son Jyotrimayditya is Minister in Modi’s Sarkar and bahen-ex Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara’s ladla MP. In Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh Assembly elections of BJP’s 75 new faces 33 were sons-daughters of leaders aged over 75 years.

Statistically, BJP is comparably dynastic. It plays anti-dynast card because its dynasts are less visible and don’t have top Party leadership handed down generations alongside a PR machinery which leaps to its defence when attacked.

Ironically, even as Rahul harps on democratising Congress yet patriarchy and familial ties continue to be the buzzword. Sister Priyanka is General Secretary, senior leader Chidambaram and former MP, Assam Chief Ministers Kamal Nath and Gogoi’s sons alongside Rao Birendra Singh and Surjewala betas are contesting while Hooda’s aankhoon ka tara is MP. Late Rajesh Pilot ladla son is Rajasthan leader and Jitendra Prasad putra is Mantri in Yogi’s UP after defecting. Ex-Union Minister Santosh Mohan Dev’s beti is TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP.

Less said the better of regional Parties. In Bihar Lalu-Rabri family concern Pati, Patni aur Parivar RJD has ladli Misa in Rajya Sabha, while her siblings Teshaswi is Party Chief, brother Tej Pratap fights for the family’s political spoils and behan Rohini is in poll fray, Punjab’s Akali shop of Badal husband-wife, BRS Rao’s beta-beti, Mamata’s bhatija and  Omar Abdullah who’s followed father Farooq and PDP’s Mehbooba who took-over the baton from daddy dearest in Kashmir.

DMK’s late patriarch Karunanidhi’s son Stalin rules Tamil Nadu while half-sister is MP.  In Haryana, erstwhile Chief Minister Devi Lal’s grandson Dushyant heads JLD. A never ending lineage wherein polls and Parties are one.

Underscoring, that not only is our political system weak, worse it is dominated by microcosmic monarchies comprising individuals rather than strong political institutions. Also, political legatees are getting younger, hungrier and meaner. One simply cannot aspire to achieve anything worthwhile in politics if you are not the son or daughter of a prominent leader.

All parroting the same hackneyed diatribe.  Sprinkled liberally with loads of balidaan and desh bhakti.  Hoping that a billion plus vassals will be mesmerized by dynastic Gods to shower blessing.  What is material is not whether the candidates are deserving but that they are “made deserving”, by virtue of their hereditary factor.

Questionably, what is about dynasty’s that attract people? One, majority of our electorate is angootha chaap, hence people relate to a neta over Party. Two, what’s wrong in capitalizing on family brand and providing a ready field to the santaan to continue the legacy?

Alas, India has entered the era of oligarchy of shameless feudalistic India. Whereby we are unabashedly feudal in outlook and jo hukum thought process, notwithstanding dynasty is an antithesis to democracy and electoral politics. Most elected leaders prefer to function in the style of old feudal lords.  Party tickets are distributed not on basis of merit, but feudal laws and connections.  If a Minister dies, give his place to wife, son or daughter.

Scandalously, 157 Lok Sabha MPs or 30% belong to political families. If this continues soon most MPs would be by heredity alone. Welcome our neo-Maharajas. Think: 28 beta-beti politicians have claimed “their birthright of carrying forward the family legacy.” They hail from J&K to Tamil Nadu, Nagaland to Maharashtra and heartland UP, MP and Bihar.

Asserts NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, “If son of a doctor can be a doctor, son of an advocate a lawyer, what is wrong in children of politicians following similar footsteps?” His daughter Supriya is pitted against sister-in-law Sunetra (rebel nephew Ajit’s wife). Adds a family patriarch: “Is it not normal for offsprings of mice to dig burrows? Children of political parents will know politics best.” Perhaps the best way to explain a rat race!

Leading to a situation where most Parties are subservient to one supreme leader. He or she can therefore wilfully impose their offspring on the Party. All one has to possess is a big and famous name, no prior experience in governance, a ticket to calling the shots. Constituencies are handed over as a jagir is handed over to heirs under the misconception it owns a constituency and has the right to pass it on to whomever it pleases, thereby reducing ‘worthy candidates’ into a farce. It’s all about bhaichara.

Consequently, in a milieu when politics transcends to business, a political family like a business house is busy leveraging its assets. Whereby, deserving candidates and Party workers are dumped as principles are unceremoniously buried thereby, creating confusion, causing rifts and fist flights.

All Parties have their share of black eyes. Resultant in sons, daughters and sons-in-law becoming an integral part of statecraft — leading to new rules, guidelines and extra-Constitutional centres of power. Bringing matters to such a pass that a neta’s clout is gauged by who and how many family members he has got accommodated as Party candidates.

Said a political scientist, “This concentration of power becomes problematic when eligibility criteria are compromised. Perhaps, the cause célèbre for split in NCP when Pawar anointed Supriya over ‘more deserving’ Ajit. Ditto with Udhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena when son Aditya was made heir resulting in Ekanth Shinde splitting with majority MLAs and formed Government with BJP. Never mind his son is an MP.

What next? For starters Parties need to realize that “dynasty” is a sword that cuts both ways. The feudal factor is proving to be more of a liability than an asset. Plainly, as peoples’   awareness of their rights increases, it would be politically prudent to hoot for democracy over dynasty.

It needs to be remembered that the best political systems are based on holding free, fair and regular Party elections.  In the long run, short-term hereditary gains would sound the death-knell of Indian polity.  The time has come to uphold true democracy. Or else continue to wallow in the political cesspool which hails the rising family —— the new rajas and ranis and my feudal India. —  INFA