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Democracy and Political Dynasts 

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The succession lines in the NCP have followed the predicted lines: the empire of Sharad Pawar has been divided into two – with daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar having been anointed as the two working presidents. Naturally, this has left Ajit Pawar miffed, and he has made no attempt to hide his dissatisfaction as he left the meeting even when the ‘elders’, including Praful Patel were still present on the dais in New Delhi where the convention was held. The choice of the venue is itself controversial: why hold such an event in New Delhi sans the vast majority of the cadres. The fact of the matter is that the nephew has a mass connect, and understands the dynamics of state politics, whereas Supriya Sule has been groomed to play her role on the national stage. However, the plain and simple fact is that there is no love lost between the cousins, and Ajeet carries the Pawar name. The party is surely going to split on vertical lines after the passing on of the patriarch, which he clearly understands and realises. Why could this mantle not be given to another leader, especially when it was on the issue of dynastic succession of Sonia Gandhi that the trio of Sharad Pawar, Tariq Anwar and PA Sangma had walked out of the Congress two and a half decades ago.

It reflects poorly on the state of democracy in our country that with the exception of the populist Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the two cadre-based parties at the two ends of the political spectrum – the Communist parties and the RSS backed BJP – all the other parties prefer princelings to dedicated and committed workers. Whether it is the Trinamool Congress or the Shiv Sena or the Akali Dal or the RJD or the Samajwadi party or the DMK or the TRS (now BRS), this problem afflicts every party. The larger question is: if there is no inner party democracy in our political parties, how can we expect the polity at large to function in a democratic spirit. This is a question which the Congress has skirted, for even when Kharge has been ‘elected’ as the President of the Congress, the fact is that the real power continues to be held by the Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

What is the real strength of these political families. Obviously, ideology has nothing to do with it. perhaps they hold the levers to the funds which are required to run the party machinery as well as the elections which have become a high-stake game. Linked to this is the question: why do certain families want to perpetuate themselves for all times in politics? Is it love for the country or love of lucre? There are no prizes for guessing, but one does hope that in the Amrit Kaal of India’s independence, we ask all these hard questions.