India is not a family’s private property
11/1/2017 4:56:38 PM
|written By : M J Akbar|
A Freudian slip is not quite a slip; it is, more accurately, a freeze-frame image of a person’s unexpressed beliefs. The fact lies in what was hidden.
There was nothing hidden about Congress heir Rahul Gandhi’s statement in support of all-purpose dynastic inheritance at a campus event in Berkeley. The Freudian bit lay in his seamless connection between public life and private sector corporations to justify his self-serving claim.
His logic began with a propostion. India, said Rahul Gandhi, is run by dynasties, so why pick on him?
Which India is he talking about? If it was political India, then let us take even a cursory glance at the political map of India in the autumn of 2017. Start with Kerala. It has a Marxist Chief Minister who would laugh quite uproariously if you suggested that he nominate his son or daughter as successor. If he didn’t laugh, his party’s Politburo would make sure that his political career ended in tears.
Neighbours Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have CMs, including one from Congress, who would be quite amazed at the prospect of their progeny becoming natural successors. Both these states, however, do have dynastic regional parties, but at this moment dynasts are not winning any electoral medals. Of course, we cannot assume that they will never win an election in the future, but what is very visible is a growing trend away from family control of power.
The CMs of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand would be pilloried by their own party, BJP, if they entertained any genetic ambitions. Orissa’s Navin Patnaik had a famous father, but has not told his voters that they are going to get a Patnaik for the next hundred years. UP has a CM who is a yogi, and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar has kept his family scrupulously out of public life. In Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s nephew is in politics, but she has not anointed him yet. Assam’s CM is a bachelor. Where dynasties exist, in Punjab or UP, they are in opposition. You will have to reach Jammu and Kashmir to find dynasties on both sides of the political equation.
As for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his family is absent from the public domain.
The pattern is clear enough. Congress is run by dynasty, not India. Where dynasties do exist, they are a waning fact, not a rising presence. The centre of political gravity has shifted to governance, and that requires capability. India wants talent, not a family tree.