Are we a Democracy??

In our childhood days, when we were told about India’s ‘unity in diversity’ I’m sure we would never have understood the full extent of the meaning of the phrase but now, thanks to omnipotent ‘nepotism’ in Indian politics, our education system might incorporate yet another example of teaching our children about India’s ‘unity in diversity’. From Abdullhas in Kashmir to Karunanidhis in Tamil Nadu our politicians are one in perpetrating ‘nepotism’ and it’s not an exaggeration if we claim this gene of nepotism runs in every Indian’s blood, across the length and breadth of the country!

Like many of the ill-wills afflicting this nation, the disease called nepotism too was effectively introduced in Indian politics by the Congress party in its obsession with the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Apart from the three family trees so far mentioned in this article the dynasties spread across all "isms" and all regions of our political spectrum. From the Thackerays, the Pawars and the Deoras of Maharashtra to the Karunakarans of Kerala to the Chidambarams and the Ramadosses of Tamil Nadu to the Naidus and Reddys of Andhra Pradesh to the Gowdas of Karanataka to Patnaiks of Orissa to the Mulayams and Mayawatis of Uttar Pradesh to the Badals in Punjab to the Chautalas in Haryana to the Scindias, Jaswant Singhs and Pilots in Rajasthan to the Laloos and company in Bihar, the list is endless. They believe in Parivars or gharana politics rather than in ideologies. They are the first families in their respective fiefdoms and are law unto themselves.

The end result is our political parties, while fighting tooth and nail to perpetrate their kinds of rule in their local strongholds, are never interested in spending time and energy to democratise their internal systems. It’s because of the fear that they might lose their grip over the family silver. Most of the political parties are nothing but private limited companies. When starting a political party has become such a profitable venture it is foolhardy on the part of the electorate to expect any kind of self-regulation and internal democracy. Most of our present day leaders are ‘state men’ rather than ‘statesmen’.

Recently the Supreme Court found it difficult to give directions to political parties to file income tax returns when the Association of Democratic Reforms, in its petition, urged the Apex Court to order them to file income returns for each assessment year. The bench consists of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam merely said, "…it was for the Income Tax Department to look into the issue. Why should we interfere in it?"

Political parties in India get divided not due to any ideological reasons but mainly due to family feuds and palace intrigues. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes, "Our political parties seem to be similar in their style of functioning. Most are based on loyalty to leaders rather than loyalty to causes or institutions. Very few have properly institutionalised norms of recruitment and membership. And none has any real intra-party democracy."

Meanwhile what’s even more striking is the recent remark by Rahul Gandhi when he admits ‘democracy’ in political parties "is non-existent in India”. You cannot enter politics unless you are well connected. The outburst of Margaret Alva, one of the staunch family loyalists of the Gandhis, when she speaks of Congress tickets being ‘sold’ is sadly true.

Both Rahul Gandhi and Margaret Alva are living examples of all that is wrong with the Congress in particular and the Indian political system, in general. Whilst there is no doubt about the lineage of Rahul Gandhi, Margaret Alva too is a product of nepotism and privilege. As the daughter-in-law of Joachim and Violet Alva, the first Congress couple in the parliament, she was handpicked by Indira Gandhi to become a Rajya Sabha MP, in 1974, when she was barely 32. She went on to serve four terms till 1998. In 1999, she contested on a Lok Sabha ticket and won. In both Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao cabinets she held important portfolios and therefore it’s totally uncalled for when she suddenly accuses the very system, which has so far helped her reap benefits.

The answer is not a difficult one. Like any Indian political leader would behave in a similar manner, she too wants to continue with the same tradition and would like to plant her elder son Nivedith, as her successor in the system, before it is too late!

The irony is that it is simply out of place for both Margaret Alva and Rahul Gandhi to adopt this kind of moral posturing in a party ruled by a political dynasty and crowded with children of political clans.

What’s also amazing is the shadow boxing that both the leaders unwittingly indulge in. In Alva’s case the real target is none other than Digvijay Singh, the chairman of the screening committee who, she claims, is the man who looked the other way while tickets were being bought and sold. On the other hand it’s an open secret that Digvijay Singh enjoys the confidence of none other than Rahul Gandhi himself!

So, is Margaret Alva taking on Rahul Gandhi to tell the whole world how come nepotism on the part of the first family of the Congress is okay but not of other leaders? Or is it called the ‘family value’?

It would be interesting to see how the Congress leadership handles this unlikely scenario but one thing is clear: coteries in the Congress Party are well and alive and Benjamin Disraeli has to blame himself for speaking too much when he said, "change is constant" but, of course, he only talked about "a progressive country”. Sadly, India is just an ‘imitation democracy’

Comments

  1. I want to bring to your notice about this political party.

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  2. i do not quiet agree with your argument particularly because i do not agree with the "as you like it" usage of the word Nepotism. While i am not a great supporter of Dynastic politics in democracy; particularly if it manifests itself in the dictatorial form; i absolutely am in support of bright young people obtaining positions of authority even though they might hail from a particular political family. Just because they hail from a particular political family does not deprive them off the right to cry out against nepotism or favouritism in the handing over of political functions or give us the right to criticize them for doing so.Even where there has been no nepotism some really bad people have come to power and done really horrible things. This has been true for Indian as well as world politics!

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