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Cosmetic Democracy


It should be obvious – if the majority of a ruling party’s MLAs are against someone becoming Chief Minister, that person cannot be foisted on them. But, to the Congress, it isn’t. The goings on in Rajasthan are ample evidence that, despite the many claims being made to revive the democratic structure of the party, there has been no change in the mindset of the High Command. The Party President elections are nothing but cosmetic rearrangement, even though Shashi Tharoor seems determined to bring some authenticity to the process. The Nehru-Gandhi family remains in command to the point where even its idiosyncrasies and whims are treated as divinely inspired.

No wonder the BJP is snidely asking Rahul Gandhi to ‘Congress jodo’ before thinking of ‘Bharat jodo’! But the question has to be seriously asked whether any political party in the highly competitive environment of today can survive without encouraging meritocracy and providing every member the opportunity to reach the highest position. Instead, the Congress has become the template for the numerous other family run parties in the country. In fact, if Bihar CM Nitish Kumar were to have his way, he would forge a confederacy of these entities in the attempt to overturn the BJP at the Centre. That is a scenario that India has yet to experience during its brief democratic existence – feudal satraps functioning under a yet to be chosen Chhatrapati!

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is being handed over the toothless position of Congress President, when everybody knows who would actually exercise power. For this, he is being asked to hand over Rajasthan to arch-rival Sachin Pilot. He would have preferred to hold both positions, but has been denied that by Rahul Gandhi’s ‘one person – one post’ diktat. He needs to be loyal to the high command but also cannot give up on what he has worked all these years to achieve – dominance in Rajasthan. All that remains is to flex his muscles through his followers, even if it is characterised as a ‘rebellion’ by his detractors. Attempts are being made to resolve the issue through mediation but it is unlikely there will be any compromise on Sachin Pilot. And with all this washing of dirty linen in public, would anyone blame the BJP if it chooses to take advantage? The problem can be fixed but it would require genuine democratic functioning that allows someone other than a family stooge to become Party President. Unfortunately, that remains a very unlikely scenario.