How can we ever justify dynasty rule in democracy ?

On March 14 2008, Narendra Modi and Digvijaya Singh appeared together on a panel at the India Today Conclave in New Delhi. It was such a rare event, as top leaders of the two parties have seldom sparred with each other directly in public. It was also very civil and quite stirring. Both know their lines and politics. Neither is known to take any prisoners.

For once, however, Digvijaya, certainly the more experienced and bilingual of the two, was stumped. Modi asked him, how did he justify dynastic rule in his party. Digvijaya recovered quickly, though. This, he said, was common enough in democracies around the world. For evidence, he said, look at America and the Clintons. This is precisely when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were locked in a close battle for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. Digvijaya’s short point was, if nobody is complaining about the Clintons in America, why should we keep complaining about the Gandhis in India.



Dynasty in Democracy doesn’t make sense

Congress’s secular nationalist narrative has lost its vigour. Internal elections must be brought back even if they oust its first family.

However one wishes to cut the statistical cloth, the recent state elections have delivered a resounding defeat to the Congress party. Of course, there are other issues that have emerged, too: whether the Aam Aadmi Party has the potential to extend its reach beyond Delhi and the extraordinary implications that might have for the nation’s politics; how Narendra Modi’s charisma was unable to turn anti-incumbency into a BJP win in Delhi and why the margin of BJP victory was so narrow in Chhattisgarh; and, finally, why the BSP got nearly wiped out in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, in each of which it had established a promising foothold.

There are at least two large and noteworthy conclusions. First, India has yet again watched a remarkable festival of democracy. Turnouts rose, a new party emerged, the Maoists were unable to disrupt elections in Chhattisgarh, and no losing party questioned the integrity of the verdict, as was customary in India in the 1980s. For all its flaws, India’s democracy is by now deeply institutionalised. There are legitimate questions about how to improve the quality of Indian democracy, but there is no threat to the existence of democracy per se, a historically unique phenomenon at a low level of national income.


Dynasty and Politics

Life is indeed uncertain. However, when we think of politics, one has to see the ethos of a party and build on it, irrespective of dynasty. Why can’t the Congress party realise all its strengths, and discard an obsession with dynasty?

The article below by the eminent historian,  Ramachandra Guha, talks about the history and state of Congress today, wondering why they cannot have a better vision.