Reality Check India

Congress without the Gandhi family, the problem lies elsewhere

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on November 13, 2013

Indian historian Ram Guha has a new Op-Ed out today titled “Congress beyond dynasty” . It follows a trend in Indian intellectual circles to want to relegate Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to the sidelines after having delivered power into the hands of more “intellectual” leadership.

her son Rahul, has done little in his decade in politics. He has scarcely been visible in Parliament and shied away from ministerial responsibility. In his rare public speeches, he has not offered a single new idea on econo-mics, politics or governance, preferring instead to praise his father, mother, or grandmother.

Congress beyond Dynasty – Source TOI

That isn’t completely true of course, Rahul has been extensively touring the country and has clearly articulated his ‘positive rights’ based economic framework. What is being missed is – the first task of any political party is to win. PV Narasimha Rao almost ran the Congress into the ground. Look at them now under Sonia. They have now ruled in the Centre for 10 years, they rule alone in 15 states, and except TN have the whole of peninsular India under control.  What does this tell you ? That only a family can control the Congress just like at the lower levels Stalin s/o Karunanidhi, Akhilesh s/o Mulayam down to the local MLA level. The larger question is why are we stuck with dynastic rule.

The reason why dynastic politics has taken hold lies elsewhere, much closer to Guha’s hero Jawaharlal Nehru. It lies with the so called “Idea of India”.

It is clear India hasnt evolved to a modern political order. It is still stuck in what Francis Fukuyama calls a society based on “kin selection and reciprocal atruism” rather than a meritocratic order. One in which strangers can enter into secure contracts with one another. An order where the security of the contract is guaranteed by Rule of Law rather than understanding and accommodation with a large number of factional leaders of groups. In India, the old rule that the ‘son shall honour the promises of his father’  is the glue that is holding things together at all levels.

What happens over time is a pyramid of kinship based trust emerges. Every families position and perks are guaranteed by another family at the next higher layer.  And every large economic enterprise needs the blessing up and down this chain. Some jostling does happen due to marriage and family infighting but this is remarkably stable overall. If you inject an “intellectual” outsider to this pyramid at the very top, say Jairam Ramesh or a Tharoor. All the equations below have to be re-calibrated. This destroys the stability of the entire system and challengers start appearing.

What about BJP ?

Is the BJP sectarian ?

In an essay published on the eve of the 2009 general elections, i argued that India needed a BJP sans the RSS and a Congress without dynastic politics. A right-of-centre party devoid of religious prejudice and a left-of-centre party not beholden to a single clan are necessary for the further evolution of Indian democracy.

it remains the only all-India party and because they cannot abide the sectarianism of the BJP.

People are going to start wondering how is it that the BJP is sectarian or harbours prejudice against any religion ? It you look at the body of evidence Congress is the sectarian party as it is passing all kinds of sectarian law and religion based appropriations under the 15-point program.

Truth is the BJP, warts and all, is closer to a modern Rule of Law party than the Congress. The fewer the goodies that groups can corner for themselves, the more uniform and predictable the law, the lesser the pull of kinship based society.

On the other hand, if you had an ill defined Idea of India state where “pluralism” calls for a pro-rata distribution of goodies to groups in proportion to intensity of political participation – you will promote kinship as a stronger guarantee.

I vote for “India” without the “Idea of”. This is where the solution lies.


2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. pp_chn (@pp_chn) said, on November 13, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    /* It is clear India hasnt evolved to a modern political order. It is still stuck in what Francis Fukuyama calls a society based on “kin selection and reciprocal atruism” rather than a meritocratic order. */

    Name one country with a polity based on meritocratic order.

  2. pp_chn (@pp_chn) said, on November 13, 2013 at 3:36 pm
    A huge poster of the late Laldenga, founder-president of the main opposition Mizo National Front, on a wall of Congress Bhavan in Aizawl takes one by surprise. So do the posters of state Congress chief Lal Thanhawla at the MNF headquarters, Hnam Run.

    With the battle to form Mizoram’s seventh government taking a turn towards identity politics, the two main parties — Congress and Mizo National Front — have tried to outdo each other in a curious way; show through pictures that leaders of the other party have worshipped in and attended ceremonies of other religions.

    One of the MNF’s main poll planks this election is based on exploiting sentiments of the largely Christian Mizos against four-time Congress Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who has on several occasions taken part in pujas while visiting other states, sporting a tilak on his forehead at one ceremony he attended with his wife.

    The MNF began work on the strategy months ago, even taking out a massive rally in Aizawl to protest the CM’s “bowing before other gods” and has since not missed any opportunity to take potshots at the CM, constantly exploiting the Christian belief that idol-worship is unacceptable.

    Lal Thanhawla, who teaches at Bible classes each Sunday during church services in his home neighbourhood of Zarkawt oin Aizawl, unwittingly fed himself to the cannon by telling a TV talk show host that even Christian pastors sport tilaks when they go outside the state. Church leaders, whom politicians take care to have on their side, especially ahead of polls, were outraged, publicly condemning the CM’s statement.

    Sensing the mood, the MNF, while announcing its second and final list of candidates for the November 25 polls a week ago, distributed brochures carrying photographs of the CM and his wife attending Hindu ceremonies, including lighting a lamp in front of an idol of Durga, cracking open coconuts at a ceremony and the CM’s mugshot with a tilak on his forehead.

    “We are not condemning the CM following another religion, it is his right. But he must keep in mind that it is because the leader of this land has committed a sin against God that the land has seen many tragic incidents. As the Bible says, the sins of the leader will lead to tragedies for the land,” the brochure reads, subtly referring to the natural disasters that have hit the state over the past few years.

    Not to be outdone, the Congress has put up a poster of the MNF’s founder-president the late Laldenga attending a ceremony in a gurdwara.

    “We care not saying Laldenga worshipped the Sikh religion. All we are saying is that Sikhs must have been enamoured of and affectionate towards him and we are happy that was the case,” a poster on a west wall of Congress Bhavan says, carrying black-and-white pictures of Laldenga, the rebel leader-turned-politician who gave his party a slogan it uses to this day — “For God and our land”.

    Will Rule of Law prevent this from happening in entire Bharatavarsha?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: