There is no law in the world which says that a politician should not let his wife, son or grandson takeover from where he left. Hillary Clinton wants to be President, following the two-term career of her husband Bill. History is full of instances where politics has been a family tradition, whether in the United Kingdom or the United States, two of the best-known democracies. True, great names like Churchill, Disraeli or Gladstone in England or Lincoln in the United States did not have family members to succeed them in the prime-ministerial or presidential gadi. The Pitts in England may have been an exception. In the US, there have been two Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin, but they were not so closely related. There have been two other such instances in US history and in recent times we have had two George Bushes, father and son as presidents, but one has never heard of a dynastic succession such as we have seen in India since 1947. Had Robert Kennedy not been assassinated he might?just might?have become President of the US like his elder brother John F. Their younger brother, Edward, has been a Senator, but his political ambitions stopped there. By and large, some of our great leaders of the past have kept their sons and daughters away from politics.
Of the Mahatma'ssons, only Devadas Gandhi was?but only distantly?in political life as editor of Hindustan Times. None of the successors of, say, Dr Rajendra Prasad, C.Rajagopalachari, Dr Radhakrishnan, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the Bose brothers of B.G.Kher in Maharashtra followed in their elders? footsteps. It is claimed that things are changing and mention is made of the progeny of Deve Gowda, Karunanidhi, Chautala, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Vasundhara Raje, not to mention Sheikh Abdullah. Gopala Krishna Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, is Governor of West Bengal, who would probably make as good a Prime Minister as any, but he has shown no indication of getting into pro-active politics. That by itself is no big deal; but it is only when a descendant of a well-known family makes extraordinary claims about his forebears that one feels sick in the stomach and wants to throw up.
Rahul Gandhi is not a child, though he has been behaving like one. The remarks attributed to him not only indicate a total sense of immaturity, but what is worse, an arrogance that is unacceptable. Nobody would question either the patriotic fervour or sense of dedication of the Nehrus, starting with Motilal. Had his son Jawaharlal not received his education in England, but had merely graduated from an Indian University, he would probably never had much to fall back upon, considering that as a lawyer, he was a failure. But those were colonial days and an England-returned had a glamour about him that fascinated even the Mahatma who took Jawaharlal under his wings, in part because of pressure from Nehru senior.
It is open to question whether Vallabhbhai Patel would have been a better Prime Minister. Certainly, only Vallabhbhai could have brought the Indian princes to heel, including the Nizam of Hyderabad. After Ashoka, credit for uniting one India should go only to him. His son Dahyabhai could at most aspire to membership of Parliament, but poor Dahyabhai has long been forgotten. This is not to belittle Nehru'simmense contribution to the freedom struggle or the many years of imprisonment he underwent for which the nation cannot be sufficiently grateful to him. There were times when he was even in financial difficulties and Gandhi had to ask him whether he would like to become the Allahabad correspondent of the then prevailing nationalist paper, The Bombay Chronicle to sustain himself. Gandhi was willing to seek the support of the paper'sdistinguished editor, Syed Abdullah Brelvi. And that is on record.
Through his leanings to the Left, as was then the fashion, Jawaharlal'sefforts to impose a Socialistic pattern of society on India proved disastrous and his taking the Kashmir issue to the Security Council turned to be a monumental error for which the country is still paying. True, there is so much he has done that is not only praiseworthy but calls for the country'sadulation which, in any way he received in substantial measure. Even the Non-Aligned Movement of which he was founding father along with others like Nasser, Tito and Sukarno evokes admiration. But one has to judge a man all in all and not merely on his plus and negative points. The same needs to be said of Indira Gandhi, she often played her cards well but the concessions she made to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto at the Shimla talks, following the end of the Bangladesh War showed poor understanding of real politique. Bhutto was an unprincipled India-hater and at Shimla, Indira could have resolved the Kashmir issue once and for all. But she made a colossal error in trying to be gracious and magnanimous. One can lay the blame on her principal adviser, P.N.Haksar, but there is no denying the fact that she let go Bhutto cheaply and let down India badly. We can forget the Emergency. It merely was indicative of the poor advice she received not only from her brash son Sanjay, but from sycophantic advisers, for which she paid dearly. She played the communal card just as carelessly and ruthlessly in Punjab with what results is everybody'sknowledge. She may have wished to partition Pakistan?who, in India, wouldn'thave, given the circumstances??but to say that it was the Nehru-Gandhi genius that was responsible for it not only shows an abysmal ignorance of events but a total lack of tact. Only someone suffering from a massive dose of self-delusion would have made the kind of remarks unbecoming of a Nehru descendant. This country can do without such adolescent behaviour. If this be the kind of leadership that Congress wants to sponsor, God save us. The tragedy is that the Congress is bereft of any vision. It is, therefore, falling back on dynasticism. All its much-hyped ideas and concepts have failed?and that, too, miserably.
Socialistic pattern of society, garibi hatao have become standard jokes. What garibi did Indira Gandhi hatao? It was not the Gandhi family which liberated Indian economy from fancy concepts but it was Narasimha Rao, with the support of Dr Manmohan Singh, who did it after Rajiv Gandhi took India to the edge of financial bankruptcy. Rajiv Gandhi'sunplanned foray against the LTTE was responsible for huge losses in the Indian Army which was forced to beat a precipitate retreat somewhat shamefacedly. And what Congress leaders did following the assassination of Smt Gandhi needs no reiteration. The earth indeed shook with the wholesale killings of innocent Sikh men, women and children.
It is sad to see Dr Manmohan Singh certifying to Rahul Gandhi'sleadership qualities?such as they are. But if Rahul needs further education on his family'sgreat deeds, he may wish to read two volumes written by B.N.Tandon entitled PMO Diary I and II. It may help the young man to come down to earth. India has plenty of men and women of quality and character for the Congress to fall back on. It does not have to depend on the Nehru dynasty to lead the country to more disasters.
The bane of Indian society today is dynasticism and casteism. Haven'twe gone beyond feudal concepts of maharajas where a ruler is succeeded by his son and so on till eternity come?