Was Rahul Gandhi, the Congress President, even aware of the irony of what he was saying when he accused ‘dynasts’ of promoting their own families in the recent elections? Did he forget they were his own appointees based on this very principle? Does he really believe he is President of the party because of his ability? Can anybody be so disassociated from reality and still remain functional in the everyday world?
It must not be forgotten that, after the Congress was turned into little more than a personality cult by Indira Gandhi, her son, Rajiv, appointed his friends and cohorts to all the top jobs, completely finishing off anything like merit-based rise within the party’s ranks. This was continued by Sonia Gandhi, who retained power by trusting only members of her coterie. The appointments made by Rahul in the party, and to lead its governments, followed the same pattern. It is extraordinary that he should now complain about the same behaviour being followed by his satraps. It is an indication of how supine the party has become that there has not been any outrage among its members at the nepotism allegations.
Every citizen of this country has the right to join a political party and seek to get elected. This includes those who come from powerful and influential families. However, in an age when the voter is less swayed by the candidate’s background and has a better idea of what lawmakers ought to be doing, this influence is on the vane. This has become evidently clear from Rahul’s own drubbing in Amethi and the fate of many other dynasts across party lines in the recent election. It is far better if party organisations have genuinely functioning and representative committees from the district level up to ascertain who the best candidate is based on an understanding of the constituency’s needs and the mood of the electorate. It could be a dynast, but others ought to be considered and only ‘winnability’ should be the criterion for selection. If parties like the BJP are throwing up battle-hardened warriors who have won their spurs in the rough and tumble of grassroots politics, the entitled softies are bound to fail at the first test.
The problem is that politics for too many has become a path to continuing a privileged existence, not public service. It is only natural that those entrenched within the structures of power are not going to encourage a meritocracy. Till such time the Congress finds a nobler purpose, it will continue to sink into the morass of irrelevance. India’s GOP seems to be heading irrevocably towards extinction.