<b>Dynasticism and casteism: Death knell to democracy</b>

Dynasticism and casteism: Death knell to democracy

MV Kamath

Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is not always very quotable. But what she said some time ago makes a lot of sense. “The average citizen” she is quoted as saying “feels there is no government at the Centre”. Those eight pregnant words tell the truth about the situation in Delhi as few other words would. The reasons are not far to seek. First is the role of the Prime Minister who is no leader in any sense of the term. A bureaucrat of long standing, he is the last man to inspire his countrymen. His dull voice, and his faceless bearing are enough to put anyone to sleep. He may last till 2014 as Prime Minister, but his term as the Prime Minister sends a clear message: Let no Party ever again nominate a bureaucrat to hold the Prime Minister’s post. Dr Manmohan Singh has turned out to be a one-man disaster.

Here is a man who at every stage of policy making has to look behind him to get the assent of his party leader. And this is Sonia Gandhi. She, it is plain for all to see, cannot relate to India. No one knows where she stands vis-à-vis Hinduism. Rahul Gandhi claims to be a Brahmin when he forgets that his grandmother, Indira, had married a Parsi and his own father, an Italian Catholic. Indira Gandhi was not averse to visiting temples. It seems she even made a point to visit them to affirm her identity as a Hindu. Where does Sonia stand? Has she anything, for example, to say about Swami Vivekananda, whose 120th death anniversary on July 4 called for comment?

Today, if anybody’s guidance and wisdom is needed, it is that of Swamiji who helped restore to India its self-respect. Can Sonia Gandhi ever relate even distantly to him? One suspects she cannot. For all her efforts to sound Indian she doesn’t represent the quintessential India. Only an India-born, Indian-bred has to lead the Congress. She has to go. The reason why the Congress turned to her in desperation is because the party felt lost with Sitaram Kesari in charge of it. in the first place, had Sanjay Gandhi not died in an accident it would invariably have been he who would have ultimately succeeded his mother.

Again, if Rajiv Gandhi had not been assassinated, Sonia would only have been a wife. If the Party turned out to be rudderless, it felt only a dynastic successor could keep it together. The trouble with Indian society is that – and history has shown it – it feels comfortable with dynastic rule. It has been ruled by Mughal emperors, Nizams, Nawabs, Maharajas and Peshwas. The  Hallmark of government was continuity. Son follows father even in elections to Parliament. That will explain why even today we have the Yadavs, the Scindias, the Ranes, the Deoras, the Hoodas and the Thakurs – a son succeeding his father. In Delhi it is not the Congress Party which rules, it is the high command which does. And there is resentment in the air. Only that can explain the total failure of the Congress in the recent elections, especially in Uttar Pradesh where it was decimated.

It is time to close dynasticism, if Congress ever wants to come to power again. Take the case of Andhra Pradesh where Jaganmohan Reddy felt that Chief Ministership of the state was his birth right following the death of his father Rajsekhar Reddy, a man notorious for corruption. But Rajsekhar was the one who, it is said, kept the Congress election kitty always full and brimming – and no question asked. In amassing illegal wealth, the son had followed his father to amass an unbelievable Rs 16,63,400 crore from a paltry Rs 36 lakhs all in the space of less than a decade! Then how come he was not allowed to be heir to his father’s throne? The allegation is that he was hesitant to obey the High Command. Ergo, he had to be taught a lesson. But dynasticism seems to be so deep in Jaganmohan’s personal empire that he dared to cock a snook at the High Command and has been made to pay a price. His party, the YSR Congress won 15 out of the 18 Assembly seats in recent elections as well as the only seat to the Lok Sabha. He has been jailed for his unaccounted wealth but he is the son of his father and how can the voter forget it? Besides, Jagamohan like his father knew how to capture voter support. It is, as is said, money, money all the way. It has not bothered Jaganmohan even to hide it. His “Permanent Address” is a 40-room palatial house with a close-by helipad. Under construction is another house, the floor plan of which show 14 escalators, ten lifts, a mini-theatre of 200 seating capacity, marble floorings in 60 rooms and squash, tennis and volley ball courts, in addition to an office complex and 20 servants’ quarters, enough even to make the Ambanis green with envy.

Plainly, corruption is not an issue in Andhra Pradesh. Money power is everything, especially if it goes with dynasticism. Money brings power. Power supports dynasticism and democracy be blowed. Who  cared if the last of the Nizams was a tyrant who imposed Urdu as Hyderabad’s state language? Wasn’t he the richest man, in his time, of the world? And thus it is that dynasticism has been thriving from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, with glowing examples in Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh and even Odishi. It almost blanks out casteism, another disease that has deeply affected Indian politics.

It is Sikhism in Punjab and the Shiromani Akali Dal can get away with anything. Mulayam Singh Yadav played his caste card very well to capture power in Uttar Pradesh. And in Karnataka, Y.S. Yediyurappa has made it plain that if he is not named Chief Minister of the BJP led government, the party may lose the Lingayat vote. It is an open threat. We are living in shady times. With what face can we claim that India is a democracy? It is a mask that the country has been forced to wear to hide the evil face of dynasticism. Congress is not a peoples’ party. It is a family concern and it threatens to remain so till kingdom come, unless the family is thrown out, bag and baggage, in the dustbin of history. There are signs that this is on the way. The Congress Party’s steady loss in election after election seems to be an indication of things to come. Of all parties the BJP alone has its hands clean: that is its strength. It should not dissipate it with internal dissensions. It has a duty to remain united for the sake of the country and victory to Democracy with a capital D.

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