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Ghar-Ghar Ki Kahani:FAMILY, NOT PARTY IS NUMERO UNO,Poonam I Kaushish, 28 May, 2011 Print E-mail

Political Diary

New Delhi, 28 May 2011

Ghar-Ghar Ki Kahani


By Poonam I Kaushish


Till yesterday, politics was all about pedigree, today, its all about parties becoming ghar-ghar ki kahani read family firms. Its shining torch bearer is none other than the Congress’s Gandhis’, spanning four generations of the Nehru-Gandhi First Dynasty. Adroitly imitated by regional satraps, Tamil Nadu’s DMK clan, Maharashtra’s NCP father-daughter duo and Shiv Sena’s father-son roar, UP’s Samajwadi, Bihar’s RJD and Punjab’s Akali’s father-son duet. Never mind, that it debases the party itself. It’s all about keeping everything in the Family, yaar!


Why not? Arguably, if a carpenter’s son could become a carpenter, an actor’s daughter an actress then what was wrong if a neta’s progeny reaps political dividends. After all, it is in his DNA. Thus, post Independence, over the decades, India’s polity transgressed from its lofty pedestal of serving the people, fighting for their respective States, caste and class down to banal, politics-is-my-birthright charade.


Worse, so obsessed and caught-up in this technicolour family album promotion, have the leaders become that their politics, ideology, programmes and policies revolve around only their aankhon ka tara. Groomed to don the mantle of power, a precious family heirloom. Wherein, all have to bow and hail the rising son.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Let better and meritorious leaders be waylaid. All is fair in love and war, bhaiya.


The muted call by old Congress jee huzoors for induction of Priyanka Gandhi has to be seen in this light. Raising a moot point: Is the over 110 year-old Grand Dame suffering from a leadership deficit?  Is it bereft of party-men who make the leadership cut? That only its First Family --- mother-son-daughter --- can lead it to political nirvana?


Sadly, yes. It is immaterial that Sonia-Rahul’s Congress seems to have lost the plot since it was voted back to power. Post the spate of scandals and the deafening silence emitting from 10 Jan path has many worried Congressmen confused and adrift. Privately, not a few admit that the Party is facing a crisis of leadership. Yet, like the Emperor with no clothes, the leader-progeny can do no wrong, merit or no merit.


Witness the way, the Congress formed a protective ring around its Yuvaraj Rahul Gandhi post the Party’s poor showing in the recent Assembly polls. In Tamil Nadu, the resounding defeat was all thanks to an ungrateful aam janata that took the colour TVs, sarees and monies but didn’t vote the DMK-Congress back. In West Bengal, the Trinamool-Congress victory was a Didi Mamata show all the way.


In Kerala, Amul Baby Rahul’s Congress won by a whisker of three voted over ‘old man’ CPM Achuthanandan. Yet its victory was pyrrhic. The prize went to the old war horse who symbolized selfless dedication to morality and probity. In Assam, Congress Gogoi’s was seen as a homespun leader who single-handedly fought a hard-won third term. In Puducherry Rangaswamy came in from the cold and dislodged an over-confident Grand Dame.


Just as the aam aadmi had done with Lalu’s RJD in last year’s Bihar poll, Sonia’s Congress and Mulayam’s Samajwadi in UP’s election in 2006.  While the people hooted for Nitish Kumar-Sushil Modi in the former and BSP’s Mayawati in the latter.  Along-with BJD’s Naveen Patnaik in Orissa and BJP’s Narender Modi in Gujarat who performed a hatrick.


Why? Primarily because they carried no baggage of family khandaan. Each leader was singular per se who was on the top because of his projection as devoted to his people, merit, hard work, likeability, coupled with shrewd politics and a dose of good governance. Also, while the Family Parties had no place for merit and were increasingly myopic in outlook, the iconoclast firms offered upward mobility if one had the stomach for grass root politics. Bringing things to such a pass, that over eight States are now run by individuals, Mamata, Mayawati, Modi, Nitish, Patnaik, Rangaswamy and Jayalalithaa.


Does that mean the days of the Dynasty are over? Not as yet, but the climb to the top has become harder. Be it Rahul and his baba log brood. No longer will being born-with-a political-spoon suffice. Post the Anna Hazare campaign against corruption which resonated in a rising middle class aspiration and youth eager to embrace change things are beginning to change slowly but surely.    


Indeed, the recent Assembly elections cannot be dismissed as straws in the winds. It holds out important lessons for neta’s who-have-yet to arrive and aspiring politicians. Importantly, do they have the grit, guts and ability to gamble? Like Andhra’s erstwhile ‘problem child’ Jagan Mohan Reddy who left the Congress only to make it bite dust in the Lok Sabha by-poll.  Or Puducherry’s Rangaswamy who ditched the Congress and formed his own Party.


The stomach to do an Indira Gandhi Belchi elephant jaunt through Bihar’s flooded waters in 1977and ride to victory? Be an inexorable unwavering one-man army like Mamata with a one-point agenda: Defeat the Marxists. Towards that end she unflinchingly bore the brunt of many CPM’s lathi-charges and arrests.


Her Nandigram and Singur land acquisition battles were a far cry from Rahul’s one-off Bhatta-Parsaul arrest-release drama. Yet, Mamata stood her ground through defeats, blood, sweat and tears. Notwithstanding, the trappings of power that were her’s to grab. She did but on her own terms, crumpled janata sarees, hawai chappals and jhola her trademark. 


Questionably, does this have any bearing on those whose political future and fortunes are destined by the Dynastic Gods to lead the nation? Yes, specially, Rahul Gandhi, already there are great expectations that he will resurrect the Congress and lead it to victory in 2014. As a test case, the Congress General Secretary seems to be pulling out all the stops to make his Party matter in next year's UP Assembly polls after 23 years.

But this is easier said than done. Leading an one-time farmers agitation against land acquisition in Bhatta-Parsaul, spending a night in a Dalit hut and stepping into the dusty hungry bowl of Bundelkhand might make for  Kodak media moments but he's far from bringing about a 'Congress revival' in the State. True, he played a big role in netting the Congress 21 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2009. But the Party came a cropper in the 2007 Assembly poll, winning 22 in a 403-seat Vidhan Sabha — three less than in the previous polls. 


Clearly, Rahul his baba log and India’s Gen X need to learn from Anna Hazare, Rangaswamy , Mamata, Patnaik, Modi et al, a voter hoots for a fearless leader who will  risk his where-with-all on an ideological conviction and beliefs that this is best for his people. Also, the aam aadmi still cherishes certain old-fashioned moral sobriety in their netas,


All in all, family “jenaioos” do not guarantee success beyond a certain point. In an era of 24/7 TV the aam janata wants a leader it can identify, connect and communicate with, one of its own, in good times and bad. He must be part of a deeper commitment to people-centric issues. Given that the people are saying goodbye to the shameless feudal trappings of a divine right to rule. Time to get rid of this gharelu nautankis! What gives? ---- INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)



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