Post Mortem

Family fiefdom in the era of aspirational politics

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/6/2019 12:22:16 PM IST

 The formal entry of Priyanka Gandhi, the latest Congress’ recruit from the Nehru-Gandhi’s scion, into mainstream India’s electoral politics should create a wave of optimism and hope in the minds of the country, especially of the youths, on its political institution that the nature of Indian democracy is a transitional one which is capable of transmitting the legacy and the role of leaderships from one generation to another newer generation. She should be the perfect representation and the face of the youths in the politics of the nation in this new era of aspirational politics sending a clear message to the country that the future of Indian politics belongs to the young Indians, and where it should instill dynamism in the nature of Indian politics and inspire many youths of the country in joining mainstream politics as a noble profession through which they could serve the people and the country.

The undesirable narrative from this latest political development, however, lies in the intention of the grand old party of India in influencing her to join politics, which would be disastrous for India’s democratic institution. For the opposition Congress, this comes as a part of a counter strategy to its decades’ old failed experimental politics whereby the party had created a make-belief political system to convince India that the son of Rajiv Gandhi, in spite of all his incapability and inefficiency, would one day deliver miracle for the party and for the country; the expectation which eventually worn out. The party sees her recruitment as a revolutionary step towards recovering themselves from the present abyss and prevents from converting the current electoral trend into a fatal for the party, and reverses its fortune. Since their defeat in the last parliamentary election, things have become bad to worse for the party. They were completely routed in the series of subsequent states election reducing the party to the role of just a marginal player in many states, only to partially restore their morale after winning the three Hindi heartland states last December. Thanks to the miscalculation of Sonia Gandhi who cleared way for his inefficient son Rahul Gandhi to become prime minister, the BJP and its allies gain political mileage. And thanks to Rahul Gandhi’s convincing flop-show and lack of charisma, expectation of the people of India that this party will take the nation forward is fast receding because of which the Congress has come to the point of perishing in the hands of the duo.
Is, then, Priyanka’s entry into politics means the country would see the continuity of the same experimental politics which had failed the party miserably, and that the party has to resort to another option to be experimented for the coming decades. This same old political paradigm of the Congress, depending on one family, will once again made way for a stagnant and regressive nature of politics. The country cannot afford to go through another decades of uncertainty and lackluster politics in the form of experimenting another new entrant into this particular filed. This only reflects Congress’ inability to present a political leadership to the country from beyond the Nehru-Gandhi’s family. Under the current Congress polity, leadership role is to be reserved only for one ruling family dynasty, and that the route to political power and responsibility is not through meritocracy but only through connection with that particular family. Lobby, favoritism and loyalty to one family are the only political order that the grand old party of India could offer to the country.
This political phenomenon is nothing but another form of narrow identity politics based on promoting and popularizing a mode of politics where it has to be identified with one single family. This serves as antithetical to the very ideal that was supposed to make India as a nation: that India belongs to everyone and that Indian democracy permits every capable Indian to strive for a place, from the lowest to the highest order, in the polity of the nation, and this is the kind of politics that Indians of this generation aspire to be.
Snigdha Poonam’s book “Dreamers: How Young Indians are Changing Their World” (Viking, 2018) had a startling revelation that 600 million Indians today are under the age of 25 and this will make India become the youngest nation in the world by 2021. These young Indians, according to the book, are “wealth-chasers, attention-seekers, power-trappers, fame-hunters. They are dreamers”. In other words, the youths of the country possess enormous talents and resources that are capable of deciding the fate of the nation for the coming many decades, and their expectation from the country, particularly from its political institution, assume high significance. The enthusiasm on the part of the youths to participate in the political affairs of the country cannot be taken for granted by any government, and the nation cannot disappoint them by projecting to them a political system influence by old feudal mindset that only one family, in the whole country, is capable of ruling India and the entire nation needs to only play a subservient role at the mercy of the ruling family. This young Indians will never want to live in this kind of India which is still under the grip of old feudal order.
To the very least, the BJP, “the party with a difference”, open the door of the scope of the leadership’s position to all capable party cadres, workers, and leaders. This unique tradition of the party in extending the scope of leadership role to all had already helped party men representing different regions, classes and background to assume top position in the party. Different party leaders/workers like a man victimized by partition of India, a Ph.D degree holder in Physics, son of a middle-class school teacher, son of a famer, son of a wealthy businessman from Mumbai, an orphan, and hailing from north, south and west part of the country all went on to occupied the top post in the party during the last less than four decades of its existence. Whether he really sells tea or not is one thing, nevertheless a man from the poorest section of the society, an OBC, could climb the ladder of party’s hierarchy by sheer strength of merit and hard work to become the party’s candidate for prime minister and eventually succeeded, and this is the success story of the party which does not confine its leadership role to one particular family or one class of people. 
At the time the country is reeling under the curse of narrow identity politics based on religions, castes and ethnicities which has badly affected its social equilibrium, and which remains the biggest threat in the quest for making a vibrant, diverse, secular and democratic India, this version of the same through promotion of dynastic democracy would do nothing good for the nation. This continuing political narrative presented by the Congress to the nation will not make them better from the saffron party’s version of politics identified with right-wing religious extremism, and also definitely will not meet the aspiration of the young Indians.
Dr. Nsungbemo Ezung, Wokha Town, (

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