Politics Sans Dynasty

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 May 2018 10:54:50

New Delhi, Mat 17 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asserted that dynasty politics had ‘ended’ and voters were rewarding hardworking leaders, as he set the tone for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, saying that it was not the time to look back but to move ahead and work for a win in the next polls. In his address to a meeting of all BJP ‘morchas’, Modi said, the people could differentiate between his Government and the ones before it. ...

THE statement of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi states a critical truth about changing political conditions. Obviously, he was talking about reducing importance of dynastic succession in politics, with a particular reference to the Congress party that has often depended heavily on the Nehru-Gandhi family for leadership. Without using so many words, the Prime Minister did suggest that dynasty politics was getting decreasing importance and the voters were rewarding hard-working leaders even though they did not have any pedigree to bank upon.

Mr. Modi did not talk about himself, but the nation cannot forget that he was just a chaiwala a few years ago and built his career in public service slowly and patiently basing it on sanctity of conduct, integrity and character. It is quite true that the Indian democracy is vibrant and matured enough to give space even for a chaiwala to grow in status and stature and even become Prime Minister. We have countless such examples in all fields, including politics. We also have the great example of a little boy who lived in a hut with leaking roof in Rameswaram and ended up in Rashtrapati Bhavan and became the darling of the whole nation, so much so that every kid loved to call him Kalam Chacha (uncle). Countless such examples are available with us countering the dynasty factor, destroying the myth of pedigree.

Despite this, however, we cannot overlook another equally harsh reality -- limiting the discussion only to politics -- that the dynasty factor is far from having vanished. True, the voters do reward hardworking leaders as well. Yet, factually, countless political dynasties exist in Indian public affairs. There are hundreds of well known political families in which the sons and daughters get into the political fold with ridiculous ease and make a great sense of their respective careers. These examples show how plush these sons and daughters and wives and brothers of celebrated leaders are and how with much ease they get organisational support and cadre-backing. Right in Karnataka, we now have a rising son whose name happens to be Mr. H.D. Kumaraswamy. And we have two-three sons and daughters of a celebrated father (Chief Minister) whose wife also became Chief Minister. In Uttar Pradesh we have a young and energetic son who followed his father’s footprints into the chief ministerial chair. We have such examples in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Odisha. We also have a Chief Minister in Andhra Pradesh whose father-in-law also was a celebrated Chief Minister. Countless such examples with various levels of celebrity status are available to us to make the point.

Let us not forget that most political parties have such examples -- of sons and daughters and brothers and wives and daughters-in-law and sons-in-law basking in dynastic glory and enjoying oversize political advantage. Most unfortunately, Indian politics is plush with such examples, almost proving Mr. Narendra Modi rather wrong, rather too much optimistic, rather too much positive about a changing trend. He may be right in the case of one family whose importance seems to be eroding somewhat. Yet, we cannot forget that the change of guard took place in Congress in the smoothest possible manner in the given conditions.

The other part of the Prime Minister’s statement has much substance, however. For, Indian voters are showing a tendency to favour hardworking leaders who have no pedigree to talk of. Not just a chaiwala but many others in more or less similar conditions have grabbed opportunities to make possible a successful political career, giving much hope to many, many others with no pedigree to boast of.

The Prime Minister’s statement about waning of dynasty politics, however, has an optimistic strand. He seems to suggest that it is time to discard dynasty politics and to add a premium to hard-working leaders who indulge in principled politics. His optimism is based on his own and other people’s realistic experience. If there is anybody who knows the woes and challenges of a poor man entering politics or other parts of public life, then it is he -- Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi. He symbolises that genre of people with no pedigree to stand upon, no money to bank upon, no favourable familial eco-system to benefit from. From that point of view, Mr. Modi’s optimism has a great value in the current conditions in the Indian political eco-system. In a way, to his party rank and file, he has given a new way of looking at the electoral challenge.

Of course, the dynasty factor will always prevail in politics -- in India and elsewhere -- no matter what Mr. Modi feels or says. For, politics is not an easy ball-game. It requires a lot of money, a lot of organisational support, and also a lot of willingness to be brazen about all those. Yet, in his superb understanding of political process, Mr. Modi has made a worthy prediction -- that the son-and-the daughter-and the wife-and the brother factor -- is on the wane. May that really happen at least to some sensible extent. The earliest opportunity to try a new approach to electoral politics is will be available in 2019. Let us look at that possibility with hope.