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The nasty Indian hang over of dynasty won't go away

Sreedhar Pillai

Updated: June 6, 2014, 1:02 PM IST
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If one single idea has roughcast the tone of the 2014 Parliament election campaign, it is the deep rooted psychosis of a large section of India which suffered from the mogul invasion and subsequent subjugation by a dynastic rule.

Yet, ironically, all over India, it is a bizarre and primitive yearning to succumb to imperial and dynastic governance and one individual's authority which has shaped the mandate for the next five years, perhaps even for a decade.

Narendra Modi has very successfully played on the phobia of dynastic rule to win an election. As the Prime Minister, he has tried to avoid the notion of dynasty in the selection of his Cabinet. But he can't escape the reality that dynastic rule is all around him and here to stay.

There is nothing more pathetic than a slayer of dynasties having to pose with the daughter of a deceased mass leader of his party, who went on to light his funeral pyre challenging Hindu traditions, because a father's political assets in this world are more useful than his peace in the other world.

No one outside Maharashtra perhaps knew the deceased Munde had a daughter who is also an MLA of BJP, till a poignant picture was flashed in the media which also exposed its own dynastic tendencies, which Mr Modi had accused others of and has set out to eradicate from India.

It also exposed the vacuousness of his accusation as much as his powerlessness to make good on a promise to exterminate something in which a whole nation is willfully drenched in.

Despite the brilliant election victory of Narendra Modi and the BJP, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Mumbai to Gauhati, India is ruled by some form or variation of dynastic power.

From Abdullas to Karuna Nidhis, from Pawars to Patnaiks, power in democratic India is vested in dynastic families by its population because, unlike in real democracies of the world, somehow they feel safer and assured in their religion, caste, community, linguistic and regional chauvinism.

The third election of the 21st century has hardly changed any of that despite the so called progress India has achieved because somehow its educational system has failed to impart the humane values in the new generations to break away from narrow mindedness and trust outsiders.

The election has in fact seen resurgence of existing dynasties like the Thackerays in Maharashtra vying for the post of the Chief Minister and the emergence of new ones like those of Rao of Telangana and Naidu of Andhra who have become new chief ministers.

Despite the fact that they did not convert to parliamentary seats, the vote shares of other dynasties like Yadavs, and Reddys or of Karuna Nidhi in Tamil Nadu have remained intact.

All that the electorate wanted, it seems, is to "punish" one dynastic power centre which they perceived as being the root cause for their miseries with a different one which they trust will deliver them the ultimate solution to their miseries.

So if religion, caste, community or regional chauvinism is what really binds people to create and support "dynastic" rule even with 66 years of independence, is the Gandhi family, all along accused of dynastic rule really dynastic?

The reality was Karamchand Gandhi didn't want to take the responsibility of governing India; he had to pass it on to someone and he chose Jawaharlal Nehru for it.

Since Jawaharlal, every descendant member of his family, much like Gandhi, has shunned the responsibility, till the Congress party, in each occasion, made it incumbent on them.

Whether it was Indira, Rajiv, Sonia or now Rahul, each has refused to take on the mantle of power and have only worn it at the behest of the party, albeit in different circumstances. How can abdication of vested power a hallmark of dynastic rule?

Now that India has achieved the riddance of a perceived dynasty and exchanged it for those of a multitude of dynasties, old and new, it can perhaps be called a nation of united dynasties.

If religion, caste and community are the real factors which establish power centres supported by them in regional level and their continuity, with the projected growth of the BJP in the next decade, India is poised for a real "dynastic" rule at the national level for the coming decades.

When elsewhere in the world, autocrats like Russia's Putin and Syria's Assad have to manoeuvre, the democratic process and whip up regional chauvinism in their countries to retain and continue their dictatorship, in India such powers are given on a platter.

They and other dictators of the world really must be envying the fortunate Indian political leaders.
First Published: June 6, 2014, 1:02 PM IST

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