Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dynastic politics on way out?

Dynastic politics on way out?

It may be coincidence or by design that in the elections to the 16th Parliament of India, the electorate of the country gave a severe drubbing to the political parties propelled by a family and dynasty. Many of them have been pushed to the brink of extinction in Lok Sabha. However, Chautala family fiefdom, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) founded by late Devi Lal, has proved to be an exception. It won 2 out of 10 seats primarily, perhaps, because of the sympathy generated by the father-son duo of Om Prakash and Ajay Chautala being in jail for having been sentenced to 10 years' jail in teachers' recruitment scam.

At the national level the Congress Party led by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has been the worst sufferer. In about 130 years of its existence the Congress had never seen as bad days as under the mother-son duo of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi who remote controlled the Manmohan government which drifted for 10 years. To save the party from utter humiliation Congress had also drafted Rahul's sister Mrs. Priyank Gandhi Vadra into the electoral battle. Still it could retain just 44 seats all over the country while the BJP won 73 seats from UP alone. Earlier the Congress had to strike alliances to be in power, now it will  enter into a coalition, Mr. Narendra Modi took a dig, to be in opposition. Congress has failed to touch the 'magic figure' of 55 to be recognized as the main opposition party in Lok Sabha.

The other dynastic party which received a severe beating is the National Conference (NC) founded by late Sheikh Abdullah and whose destiny is presently guided by the father-son duo of Mr. Farooq Abdullah, a Cabinet Minister in Manmohan government and J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah. For the first time since its inception the NC has returned empty handed in the Lok Sabha elections.

Another political outfit to come out with a zero performance is the DMK which once ruled the roost in Tamil Nadu. It not only run the State government a number of times but also had an important role in most of the governments at the Centre.

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) was founded by late Chaudhary Charan Singh who did have a stint as Prime Minister for about six months on the strength of defections. RLD legacy was inherited by his son Ajit Singh, Civil Aviation Minister in the outgoing UPA government of Dr. Manmohan Singh. He too has been an ace defector having entered into a marriage of convenience with almost every political party in the country. He contested the last Lok Sabha elections in alliance with NDA but when the latter failed to get a majority he deserted it to flirt with UPA for political pelf of power. He had now settled into a dynastic succession with his heir apparent son Jayant Chaudhary who too tasted defeat. The electorate this time gave a boot to the party and it today stands obliterated from the rolls of Parliament. The 'invincible' Ajit Singh is licking his wounds of electoral defeat.

The Bahujan Samajwadi Party run singularly by Ms Mayawati too had a very bad luck this time. It drew a blank and will be without its presence in Parliament for the first time since its inception.

Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav clan is another family run regional outfit. His son Mr. Akhilesh Yadav chief minister of Uttar Pradesh stands in a clear line of succession. SP was returned to power with an overwhelming majority in Vidhan Sabha elections in 2012 and had 22 Lok Sabha MPs in 2009 parliament elections. It came out greatly mauled in the recent elections with its kitty going down to 5.

In Haryana the family political group of Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) of late Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal failed to make a mark and remained unrepresented in the new Lok Sabha.

There are many points of similarity among these dynastic conglomerates. One: when they win an election, the credit is squarely grabbed by — and given to — the 'supreme' leaders. In the event of defeat, the latter are completely quarantined of responsibility and blame transmits to the organization — and government if in power — in the states and down below.
The second common trait is that none of the top leaders has taken responsibility for the electoral humiliation. Some did stage-manage resignations when their sycophant followers shouted hoarse the "No, No" chant only to be silenced following the 'supreme' leaders announcing withdrawal of the resignations bowing to the love, affection and loyalty of their workers.

A further semblance except for HJC in Haryana is that either these parties themselves were in power or were part of the UPA government at the Centre or were chivalrously jumping in to save the government with outside support in times of need. They were the target of corruption charges themselves or were seen to be in the bandwagon of UPA.                 *** 
Also published in October 2014 issue of SOUTH ASIA POLITICS monthly.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi: No Indian by heart?

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi: No Indian by heart?

Media reports have it that both Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and her son Vice-President Rahul Gandhi have, so far, not congratulated BJP and Mr. Narendra Modi for their victory in the recent Lok Sabha elections. This is the least elementary courtesy expected of a vanquished leader and party in a democracy. All political leaders and parties have been following this practice in the past. Even Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh spoke to Mr. Modi and congratulated him. All what Mrs. Sonia Gandhi stated in her first Press meet on May 16 acknowledging defeat of Congress was that she wished well for the new government. Her son had kept silent.

What does all this indicate? Mrs. Sonia Gandhi's conduct is not in keeping with the Indian traditions and ethos. Mrs. Gandhi took a long period of about 12 years to seek and get Indian citizenship after her marriage to late Rajiv Gandhi. This only shows that even if Mrs. Gandhi has become a citizen of this great country, she has not so far become an Indian in her heart. She has not become one with the Indian way of life and culture. It looks only the label has changed and the person remains the same as before.

As far as our knowledge goes, this elementary courtesy is followed all over the world, at least in the democratic world and even in the country of her birth. The defeated leaders hail their opponent's victory and congratulate them.

It is pertinent to recall that when former President of India Giani Zail Singh died, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi had failed to pay her respects to the departed soul. She had refrained from visiting his residence and expressing her condolences. She seems to have not forgotten the bitter relations her husband late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had with President Zail Singh. But that behavior is un-Indian. We in India pay our tributes even to our enemy on his death and visit his/her home uninvited. What should the people of India construe from this behavior of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and her son?

Note: The results were declared on Friday, the 16th May. According to Press reports Mrs. Gandhi sent a congratulatory letter to Mr. Modi on Tuesday, the 20th May which was made public actually on Thursday, the May 22 after it was a talk of the town and the media of Mrs. Gandhi's courtesy lapse. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday Sentiment MODI HAS ARRIVED

Sunday Sentiment

As the last two phases of polling on May 7 and 12 slowly inch towards a grand finale, the final picture, for sure, shall be know only on the afternoon of May 16. But the trends of reporting in the media have started trickling in of the mood of the electorate indicating that the BJP-led NDA is marching forward to dethrone the much disgraced Congress—led UPA government of Dr. Manmohan Singh where nothing moved without a nod from the Congress supremo Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and her son Vice-President Rahul Gandhi catapulted to the forefront for the last over one year with a definite plan to project him as the prime ministerial candidate.

There was, no doubt, something which has remained so far undisclosed what made Mrs. Sonia Gandhi surprise every Congressman by hurling the bombshell of ‘sacrifice’ after she returned from meeting the then President of India, Dr. APJ Kalam, where she had gone to seek an invitation to form a government with a claim for majority support to give a stable government. Whatever perceptible or not, the fact remains that the game was well-played. If she had not made the supreme “sacrifice” she would have then just remained a Prime Minister, but the ‘sacrifice’ gave her laddoos  in her hands. She virtually became a super Prime Minister. While her protégée Dr. Manmohan Singh had the post of Prime Minister, he had not the power; Mrs. Gandhi held no office but had full power and control. As a result she grabbed all the bouquets for anything and everything done by Manmohan government, she pushed every brickbat for failure towards Manmohan Singh. As Chairman of the extra-constitutional authority of National Advisory Council (NAC) she was the fountainhead of most of the policy decisions of the government and drafted enactments just to be presented to Parliament for approval. The Council of Ministers had just been reduced to the position of an implementing authority which owed an explanation to her for daring to delay implementation or defy her. Later, the Prime Minister had to look for a yes not just Mrs. Gandhi but from Rahul Gandhi too. He was instrumental in making UPA government to stage a smart about-turn on a policy on which it and Congress felt proud of.  In sum, it derailed the authority of the Prime Minister.

From all indications  an NDA government under Mr. Narendra Modi as Prime Minister is more than certain. Media reports suggest that BJP may make its presence felt even in States, like West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra ,where in the past its score had been zero. Media has started asking Mr. Modi what will he do on different matters and issues, as if he has already arrived on the scene. This has rattled the confidence of the Congress leaders. That explains their irrational, immature and irresponsible diatribes against Mr. Modi and BJP. Same is true of the other UPA partners and supporters from within or outside. Frustration is writ large on their faces and tongue. According to media reports, the satta bazaar has stopped betting and trading on the possibility of Mr. Rahul emerging as prime minister.

In a way the Congress leadership too has started seeing the writing on the wall. Important Congress ministers and functionaries, like Mr. Salman Khurshid and Ahmed Patel, have started dwelling on the post-result political scenario. One has claimed that Congress will form a government with the support of the ‘secular’ front, the other has spoken of helping it form a government to keep Mr. Modi out.  But that may be, on the one hand, a ruse not to let the morale of workers and leaders down for the remaining phases of polling and, one the other, can just be called as the last straw for a drowning party.

By all counts, the media, the opinion polls and the general perception among the masses is that BJP is sure to emerge as the single largest party and NDA the single largest pre-poll alliance. Its tally is likely to be near about the magic figure of 272 if not a clear majority and further support will swell voluntarily as the results start trickling down. If Congress is banking on any helping hand from its former “trouble-shooter” and now President, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, it is hoping against hope. The President is not likely to do anything that goes against the precedents and the spirit of the Constitution.
Another indication is the fact that Congress wanted to nominate a judge for the so-called Snoopgate investigation before May 16, the day when results were to be out. That it wanted to haste appointing a judge in implementation of cabinet decision taken in December last shows that it had no hope of returning to power. All it wanted was to embarrass the new government. If it had the slightest hope, it would not have decided to go ahead with appointing a judge. The Congress could very well do this after being returned to power again. But it had read the writing on the wall. It is good that, in the end, good sense prevailed. But the likes of Kapil Sibal and Sushil Kumar Shinde once again left the Congress red-faced. It once again proved that Congress never consulted its allies and was taking such important decisions unilaterally in a fascist manner. 

Therefore, by all means there is nothing to stop Mr. Narendra Modii enter 7 Race Course Road and form an NDA government after a decade.  It will be a new era of hope and happiness for the nation.                                           ***