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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Swapan Dasgupta: Only a Gandhi can be king

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Very nice article "Only a Gandhi can be king" by Mr. Swapan Dasgupta on undemocratic monarchic Congress and its dynastic politics, below are a few excerpts:
I have no complaints about editors rooting for the Congress’ victory in the general election and doing the groundwork for the fourth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to become Prime Minister. The right to genuflect at the altar of any god or false prophet is constitutionally-guaranteed and, hopefully, will always remain so. What is interesting though are those (apart from Rahul Gandhi) that have been projected as representatives of the Congress’ Gen-Next: Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasada and Milind Deora. Apart from age, a felicity with the English language and People-Like-Us clubability, what binds these youth icons?

The answer is inheritance. Every single one of these personable Page Three figures has been catapulted to the centrestage of politics on the strength of an accident of birth. True, this is not a disqualification. Nor should it be said that in time to come many of these individuals will not distinguish themselves for reasons of ability, rather than pedigree. For the moment, however, they enjoy a head-start because of privilege — a principle that flouts every norm of modernity.

The new mansabdari system that has become the basis for the Congress is what distinguishes it from the other national party. Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Narendra Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan may be faulted for being born when they were. Tragically, selecting the year of birth is something that an individual has very little control over. Yet, what distinguishes each of them from the Congress’ youth pantheon is that they were not to the manor born. They have got to where they have on the strength of their abilities. They have not inherited political seats and they are not blessed by entitlement.

The Congress’ claim to be a party of modernity is built on spurious foundations.

What makes this drift to mindlessness doubly galling is that it is prefaced by the astonishing arrogance of birth. The Gandhis may be India’s most formidable pre-sold brand but it does not accord to the family the divine right to treat India and its institutions as a private estate.

The unfortunate Pranab Mukherjee is a case in point.

Instead, every ingenuous trick has been played to undermine his importance, to show that he is not a first among equals and that he doesn’t enjoy the full trust of the owners of the Congress. After PV Narasimha Rao, one of India’s great Prime Ministers, the owners have decided that competence always comes second to loyalty and subservience. The Congress youth are relevant because their fathers served the owners loyally and because it is hoped that the same loyalty has become a family trait.

The Congress model of modernity is akin to the Chinese Communist Party’s prescription for its youth. Young China can enrich itself, have a ball in the pubs and discos, even get on Facebook, but it is forbidden from thinking for itself. To this the Congress has added its proscription — don’t have ideas above your station.

The hierarchy of dynastic India is defined and unshakable. The slumdog can be a millionaire but only a Gandhi is King.

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