While the country was still reacting to the selection of Yogi and his actions, far away from the lime light of the media glare, few intellectuals of Congress leaders have started further cementing the position of Rahul Gandhi.
First, it was Shashi Tharoor, who argued that dynasty politics is driven by democracy. Speaking in Hyderabad Tharoor, a career diplomat and an accomplished author, who flirts with Narendra Modi while his mind and body are firmly planted in the Congress questioned why only in inheritance of political legacy is questioned when it is allowed in other professions and businesses. To quote him verbatim, “Our society is characterised by the transmission of talent through the gene pool. If one wants to become a Bollywood star, it helps if your father is a Bollywood star,” said Tharoor. He explained further that dynasty politics is not anti-democracy as it is subjected to the will and wishes of voters. He cited few examples of how someone without talent cannot survive, even in Bollywood.
What Shashi Tharoor forgot in the heat of debate was the fundamental nature of how politics is being played in India.
No politician worth his salt accepts and concedes that politics is simply a power play, but claim they are into politics only to ‘serve’ people. There are numerous examples of how these ‘public servants’ behave when the kick of power goes to their brain, cutting across party lines and belonging to various time frames.
Of course, power is the best stimulant and even the man who made his retirement plans in one Kumbakonam ashram due to old age, Narasimha Rao was seen with his chest thrusting out immediately after becoming prime minister. There is no point denying it. Yet, most of the politicians claim to be in service of people, while even their extended families start amassing wealth for the next many generations abusing the power thanks to the position one holds.
In some professions, it is the physical assets that are inherited by next generation, while in others it is the goodwill.
If lawyers and doctors can follow their parents, why not others? Good logic. No denying that. It is not about preventing people from inheriting the professions and businesses of their parents, but providing equal opportunities to others. Providing equal opportunities to ‘newcomers’ against the intrinsic biases exist due to the monopoly holds the key.
What Shashi Tharoor failed to grasp was that ‘politics’ in democracy is supposed to be neither a business nor a profession. And, if we talk of creating the gene pool, maybe he is supporting the caste system that is being practiced now based on hereditary rights and not by being open to merit. Is he advocating in support of hereditary occupations rather than meritocracy? I suppose he is not. He simply failed to grasp the gravity of his statement, though he could beautifully phrase it with Oxford English (Or is it Cambridge?).
The fact is fundamentally, he was wrong when he said dynasty politics in democracy is correct, though he is absolutely correct when he said the final decision lies with the people. Well, then it becomes a matter of how our system is and in one go he confirmed our system is not fool proof.
Let us discuss the views of another member of Congress think tank, Mani Shankar Aiyar.
He explained why the talk of changing leadership of Congress is futile. The more seasoned diplomat was in fact way beyond Shashi Tharoor and claimed none in the Congress had ever considered the need to replace Gandhis. True, he simply was stating the fact. Aiyar had given the example of Sonia Gandhi’s election, when she polled 9400 votes against 94 votes, Jitendra Prasada could poll. Well, is there anyone in Congress to take on Rahul Gandhi? He thundered.
No Sir, there is not a single person in Congress, who would be taking on Rahul Gandhi in an election for the post of party president. Whoever feels Rahul should not be the president have already left the party or would be leaving.
Though Aiyar extolled the win of UPA under Sonia Gandhi’s able leadership and her “political legerdemain” that overcame Vajpayee’s towering personality and remarkable upturn in economic performance by NDA-I. He still suggests the way Sonia prepared for the elections of 2004 and 2009, by allying with every regional outfit, with the exception of Rahul Gandhi be the leading person in next elections.
Actually, Aiyar epitomises the average Congress leader. Though he claims he had won elections with a margin of 2 Lac in 2004, even kids in Tamilnadu know whether he could win without the support of his alliance partner in the state. In fact, currently lot of Congress leaders are more suited to run the government as most of them are former bureaucrats or lawyers, who know how to oil the administrative machinery. After a long time, Amarinder Singh emerged as one strong leader in the Congress, who could win elections on his own, despite being identified with the Congress party.
Before him YS Rajasekhara Reddy was the congress leader who could present the state on a platter to high command. With Vilas Rao Deshmukh dead and Ashok Chavan tainted with ‘Adarsh’, Congress has no proper leader in Maharashtra. Digvijay Singh, former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh is more interested to play spoilsport in other states and is replicating his performance in MP elsewhere. The only credible face Congress has in Karnataka has already joined BJP. Though in Kerala Congress may hope to come back after five years, there are not many states where they have even hopes. If Congress leaders are in a confused state in Gujarat, they are in an agitated state in Rajasthan.
Why blame others? The culture of Congress was always to run the party through a coterie. Netaji was forced to resign after being elected for the party president. Natural evolution of leaders was curtailed and nominated leaders were allowed to take control over the party. This practice culminated with Manmohan Singh nominated as Prime Minister of India, only to rue that his cabinet doesn’t listen to him.
Current generation congress leaders are like parasites that live off the trunk of a tree. They wither with the trunk and when the tree blossoms, they do resuscitate. Aiyar is correct. Rahul Gandhi has a problem. A problem to choose his opposition within the party. He has to select a person who will be allowed to contest against Rahul and gracefully accept defeat.
It is not a coincidence that Janardhan Pujary of Karnataka Congress claimed that the daughter of Priyanka Gandhi would turn to be a leader India ever has seen. He quoted some astrologer in Haridwar to support his claim. Even BJP is working overtime on these predictions, with Venkaiah Naidu terming Narendra Modi as the Indian Nostradamus predicted to revive Indian dominance over the rest of world.
One point both Tharoor and Aiyar have missed was it was the ‘loyal’ congress leaders whose career and life are dependent on Gandhi family have vociferously opposed the electoral reforms Rahul Gandhi proposed immediately after he took charge of the party, many years ago. They successfully obstructed reformation of the party so that their own vested interests could be served better. Even in UP and Punjab, the scarce respect Prashant Kishor, who was entrusted with responsibility by Rahul Gandhi was an indication how Congress leaders conveniently try to undermine the much revered Gandhi family name.
However, both members of Congress think tank should note that it is in the interest of the nation that Congress to continue with Rahul Gandhi, as he is the only one capable enough to close down shutters on the party offices. Even if he fails to close down Congress (even Mahatma failed at it), if Rahul succeeds in creating a ‘Gandhi-mukt-Congress’ that would help Indian democracy a lot. And other parties, including BJP should learn from the mistakes Congress did.