Dynasty Vs. Ideology

The BJP President made a pitch for ideology driven politics by stating that parties bereft of ideology are often confined to families that “kill the very essence of parliamentary democracy”. He implied that family driven parties (in India) followed no ideology and do not practice democracy.

2.The statement needs to be examined critically. In the first place, ask any common person in India about the ideology of any political party in India and you are likely to draw a blank. You are likely to be told that the only ideology that political parties in India follow is any thing that helps capture power. Of course,poverty serves as a handy platform for all parties in as much as removal of poverty is avowedly the most important objective of every party’s political agenda.

3 BJP is not immune to taking all kinds of people on board in its pursuit of majority in assemblies or in Parliament. People having remained loyal to a particular party for years change their “ideology” overnight to join another party in power or likely to gain power. BJP is among parties that handle such traffic, both inward and outward. So what is the ideology?

4. The so-called family parties are not born as such nor do they renounce ideology or democracy. The Indian National Congress for example, whom people like Mr. Shah (the BJP President) call a “dynastic” party today, is a party founded and nourished by the greatest of Indians including Mahatma Gandhi, Lokmanya Tilak,Rajagopal Achari, Subhash Chander Bose, Jawahar Lal Nehru etc. It was not called a dynastic party till Jawahar Lal Nehru, who was India’s (first) Prime Minister for about 16 years, died. Even after his death, Lal Bahadur Shastri, no family man of the Nehru clan, was elected to succeed him but unfortunate death snatched him away from the country. After Shastri’s death, Jawahar Lal Nehru’s daugther, Indira Gandhi was democratically elected as Prime Minister not because she was Nehru’s daughter but because she was the most acceptable to the party’s brass and the cadres though she may have lacked the caliber of her great father and his erstwhile comrades of the freedom movement.

5. The emergency imposed on the country by Indira Gandhi in 1975 led to her unpopularity and dethronement in 1977. People gave the worst drubbing to the Congress. But the parties that inherited the power performed so badly that people brought Indira Gandhi and the Congress back to power in 1980.

5. That Indra’s son, Rajiv Gandhi, succeeded her is a fact but it is true also that he won one of the most massive majorities in Indian Parliament. Rajiv,(and Congress) too lost power in 1989 due to allegations in the Bofors scandal etc. leading to a brief spell during 1989-91 of rule by non congress Prime Ministers/ parties. But Congress again won power in 1991 and this time the Prime Minister was P.V.Narsimha Rao (not a dynasty man) from 1991 to 1996 after whom Congress remained out of power for 8 years from 1996 to 2004 when it regained power with Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister. The above narration clearly establishes that the so-called dynastic party, the Congress, has not been favoured by the people for reasons of dynasty and it has been in or out of power depending on its performance and it has had Prime Ministers not belonging to the dynasty.

6. The Congress was labelled as a dynastic party mainly after 2004 when the party was returned to power and practically all the party MPs wanted Sonia Gandhi (wife of late Rajiv Gandhi) as the Prime Minister. She, however, nominated Manmohan Singh as the PM and persuaded all party MPs to accept her decision. However, it was believed that Manmohan Singh was only a figure-head and the real driving force of the party and Government remained Sonia Gandhi. Further it was/is believed that Sonia Gandhi is grooming her son Rahul Gandhi to be the next Prime Minister. Since Sonia and Rahul are descendants of the Nehru dynasty and all party functionaries and cadres kow-tow to them, the party has been given the label of a dynastic party. However, the fact remains, as brought out above, that the Indian people have never been swayed by dynastic considerations alone.

7. It is true that some political parties in India have acquired dynastic nature such as the Samajwadi party, the DMK in Tamil Nadu and, may be, the Akali Dal in Punjab. But such parties are not to blame for this characteristic. All members of these parties, who hold any positions in party or government have to go through a democratic process i.e. fight elections and win. The real problem appears to lie with lack of talent in these parties outside the families concerned. This again is due primarily to the lack of interest among the intellectual classes to take to politics as a career because politics in India has come to be associated, not unjustifiably, with dirty money and muscle power.Many professional politician are known to harbour muscle men around them. In casting their votes, people generally are guided by the reputation of the founding fathers of these parties who gained their positions by virtue of certain sterling qualities. It is for this reason that undeserving people given tickets by coteries developing around such people at the helm, manage to get elected and bring bad name to the party and politics in due course. This also applies to parties claiming to be non-dynastic, such as the BJP who do not lack people with criminal or anti-social backgrounds. Thus, it can be said that all parties have a share in degrading democracy in this country and not only the so called dynastic parties.

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