Parties Invoke Dynastic Gods

By Poonam I Kaushish

In our electoral dance of democracy it’s raining pedigree. No, I am not talking about the canine variety, but our political lineage, specially the millennial brat pack wherein, our Parties are busy invoking the dynastic Gods to reap rich political dividends. A fool-proof way for India’s polity to go to the dogs!

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

The regional satraps Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, Chautala’s INLD, Badal’s Akali Dal, Abdullah’s NC, Lalu’s RJD, Mulayam’s Samajwadi, Patnaik’s BJD, Ajit Singh’s RLD, Mehbooba’s PDP and Paswan’s LJP believe in Patni and Putra-Putri Prem!A no-holds barred gharelu nautanki which has surpassed India’s Got Talent TRP rating.  Indeed, India’s son’ is shining, and, how!

Undeniably, India has entered the era of oligarchy. Scandalously, 157 Lok Sabha MPs or 30% belong to political families. If this continues soon a time will come when most MPs would be by heredity alone. Welcome our neo-Maharajas. Think.  Twenty eight beta-beti politicians have claimed “their birthright of carrying forward the family legacy.” Be it Congress, BJP, Samajwadi, BSP, Trinamool, NCP, NC, TDP, DMK, RJD and LJP. They hail from J&K to Tamil Nadu, Nagaland to Maharashtra and heartland UP, MP and Bihar.

Ironically, even as Congress President Rahul harps on democratising the Party yet patriarchy and familial ties continue to be the buzzword. Name any Chief Minister or PCC Chief and one will invariably find his aankhon ka tara son-daughter in politics. From MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son who is in the poll fray from Chindwara to his predecessor Digvijaya and J&K Soz’s  sons, Union Minister Santosh Mohan Dev’s beti et al.

Ditto ex-Finance Minister Chidambaram and former Assam and Haryana Chief Ministers Gogoi and Hooda’s sons, former Union Minister PM Sayeed sons to dynasty retainer Murli Deora, late Rajesh Pilot and Jitendra Prasad putras down Sunil Dutt’s daughter Priya Dutt and Punjab Raja Amrinder’s Rani.

Modi might scoff at Congress’s dynastic politics breeding “termites” but the BJP too stands “Congressised” and has its fair share of progenies. Of the BJP’s 75 new faces who made their electoral debut in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh in the recent Assembly polls 33are sons or daughters of leaders who have crossed 75 years.

Besides the other Gandhis — Maneka-Varun, there is Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s son, deceased Goa and Delhi Chief Ministers Parrikar and Sahib Singh’s betas alongside erstwhile Union Minister Yashwant Sinha and Himachal Chief Minister Dhumal ladlas,  late Promod Mahajan and Munde’s daughters and MP strongman Vijayvargiya son.

There’s dear Akhilesh Yadav who followed daddy Mulayam as UP Chief Minister and nominated wife-uncles-cousins as MPs and not-so-young but still in papa’s footsteps is Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray hailing his rising son Aditya. Ditto TDP’s Naidu’s and TRS Rao’s beta-beti, Mamata and Pawar’s  bhatijas, Mayawati’s bhai and  Omar Abdullah, who’s followed father Farooq and grandfather Sheikh and Mehbooba who took-over the baton from daddy dearest in Kashmir.

Lalu-Rabri family concern RJD has ladli Misa in Rajya Sabha, while her siblings Tej Pratap-Teshaswi fight for the family political spoils, Paswan is busy lighting the ‘chirag’ for son as is Ajit Singh, Punjab’s  Akali father-son shop has Badal daughter-in-law as Union Minister and her brother as MLA. The entire Scindia family of Gwalior has smoothly transitioned from monarchy to politics: Congress has Madhav’s son Jyotrimayditya and BJP ex Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara’s ladla and bahen.

Besides, political legatees are getting younger, hungrier and meaner. Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Odisha are classic cases where dynasty rules the roost. You simply cannot aspire to achieve anything worthwhile in politics if you are not the son or daughter of a prominent leader. Besides Hooda, Rao Birendra Singh and Surjewala have their sons and daughter respectively in the poll fray. Erstwhile Chief Minister Bhajan Lal’s son and Devi Lal’s progeny have regional outfits.  On one side Ajay Chautala’s son Dushyant is pitted against chacha Abay.

Down South there is DMK patriarch Karunanidhi’s son-daughter-nephew clan. Not to be left behind rival AIADMK has fielded Dy Chief Minister Panneerselvam and ex-Mayor’s sons. A never ending lineage whereby polls and Parties are one. In Odisha several political families are in the fray, some seeking re-election or crossing swords with their kin as Parties have fielded various family members from different constituencies.

In Sundergarh ex-Congress Chief Minister Biswal’s two daughters are in the fray, one BJD’s Lok Sabha candidate, the other Congress’s Assembly contender. In another constituency the Congress has given the father the responsibility to retain an Assembly seat and son to wrest a Lok Sabha seat from rival BJD. A BJD MP has transferred his baton to wife. Also in the fray is erstwhile Paralakhemundi King Gajapati’s great granddaughter.

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

If truth be told, we are still unabashedly feudal in our outlook and jo hukum thought process, notwithstanding that 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 the basis of merit, but feudal laws and connections.  If a Minister dies, give his place to the wife, son or daughter.

This is today’s political culture reeking off a shameless feudalistic India where families, even extended ones, invoke the dynastic Gods. Some see the netas bachhas invasion as leaders cloning themselves to fortify their empires. All this under the fallacy that charisma and money rather than democratically choosing the best candidate, serve the needs of the constituency and voters. Asserted a senior family patriarch: “Is it not normal for the offspring of mice to dig burrows? Children of political parents will know politics best”. Perhaps the best way to explain a rat race!

In a milieu where politics has transcended to business, a political family like a business house is busy leveraging its assets. 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. Sadly, deserving candidates and Party workers are dumped as principles are unceremoniously buried thereby, creating confusion, causing rifts and fist flights.  Indeed, all Parties have their share of black eyes resulting in sons, daughters and sons-in-law becoming an integral part of statecraft – leading to new rules, guidelines and extra-Constitutional centres of power. Now matters have reached such a pass that a neta’s clout is gauged by who and how many family members he has got accommodated as Party candidates.

What next?  With top leaders making their ‘issues’ an election subject, ideology has been cast aside.  Notwithstanding, in the long run short-term feudal gains will sound our polity’s death-knell.  All busy hailing and serenading each other —- the new rajas and ranis and my feudal India.–INFA

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