The current crisis in the Yadav clan in Uttar Pradesh possesses bigger questions and threats than a mere feud over the symbols. How do we place these political developments on the broader time frame of the illogical dynastic politics in India?
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the New Year, the aisles of the great Indian political arena have been jam packed with deliberate rumpus in the top leadership of the Samajwadi Party. The approaching election dates further intensify this tussle as random horns are seen locked every other day. The entire controversy which ignited on 14th September last year when Mulayam Singh Yadav appointed his brother Shivpal Yadav as UP SP chief, replacing Akhilesh Yadav to which the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister responded by ousting his uncle of three prime portfolios; has roped in all the major stakeholders of the party. Opposition drools over the entire family drama with timely crocodile tears here and there. Fittingly, the media houses are leaving no stone unturned to be the first ear to any development at 19, Vikramaditya Marg, Lucknow.
Unfortunately, a myopic picture which the entire crisis depicts is one of the objectification of something as theoretic and communal as a political party. Only time will tell how the general mass of UP respond to this bickering of the father and son over what seems to be something as mundane and personal as family business, further degrading not only the sanctity of the already blasphemous Indian politics but also the reliability of the government.
The inevitable question here is what makes these dynastic rulers take for granted a political party, and hence the social ideology on which it stands or the general mass which supports it? What gives certain families the liberty to defame the reputation of a party which is earned over time through blood, sweat, toil and tears of countless supporters?
The answer lies in the patriarchal hierarchical setup of the Indian culture which the nation has been witnessing ad infinitum. We have ended up being a nation of people who feel that leadership, and hence its charisma, is a trait which is passed through generations, and hence there is no questioning of the leadership skill of a prodigal progeny of a veteran father however badly they fare or what new lows they lead the party, or the nation, to.
Mr. Nehru, the trendsetter, capitalized on this ardent desire of ours for a monarchical system and taught the nation that nepotism was all right and it was only fair to later reward your siblings, cousins and children with plum posts if you happened to be in power. This formula later worked so well by 1991 that when an utterly inexperienced, disaster orator Sonia Gandhi offered the Prime Minister-ship, no-one batted an eyelid. So dismal is the situation that now when Congress seems to be getting reduced to nothing, the alternative to the appalling leader in Rahul Gandhi is thought to be his sister.
Inder Malhotra, the former editor of The Times of India, in his book ‘Dynasties of India and Beyond’, poignantly reasons this form of feudalism exercised by these political stakeholders when he writes “the vocal minority’s denunciation of dynasties-particularly loud in India and primarily directed against the Nehru-Gandhis-is indeed out of sync with the basic reflex of the silent majority… To the bulk of the subcontinent’s population, there seems nothing objectionable in political power passing from parent to progeny”.
This resentment of a minority is something which is fatal for a democracy. Keeping in view the changing tides of the mood of the masses in India and globally, a general consensus among the political parties needs to be made to stop taking people for granted and rise above the family lines to salvage their political party in particular and the national politics in general. We do not want to see the rise of our own version of Donald Trump.
Dynasties of India and Beyond, Inder Malhotra, Harper Collins, 2004
Sunil Rajguru, Dynastic politics in India.
Image credits: TheIndianExpress.com