By Mriganka M Bhowmick
The outcomes of Maharashtra and Haryana Elections are giving a silver line of hope for Congress and its opposition allies. The much circulated picture of rain drenched Sharad Pawar addressing rally came out as the notion of a combative opposition, trying to save its last ground. As a matter of fact the fight from Central leadership of Congress was completely missing. If there is any silver lining on opposition performance, the credit must go to the ground workers and few state leaders in Haryana and Maharashtra. Emergence of a combative state leadership will be the only hope for Congress for its future. Evidently, The Central leadership imposed Dynastic Politics with Entitlement does not yield any dividend in the ground.
The ever dynamic Indian Politics has charted out a new path in India which affirms the rise of self made political leaders without protectionism for numero-uno position in the party. The political space is no more a mere fixture of entitlement of dynastic legacy. With upsurge of Modi led BJP in Indian political canvas, the political space and legislative offices are required be achieved through political movements and hard work at grass level as BJP under Mr Amit Shah works whole heartedly for the party.
It is a well known phenomenon that a strong leader is having an ebbing effect on dynastic politics in democracy. That is what Modi is for Congress. Moreover freshly nurtured young leaderships in states are further making Congress and other regional parties with dynastic ethos worrisome about the future. It is an urgent requirement of Congress and its opposition allies to promote a new set of fresh leaders in the state insulated from nepotism and dynasty. Presently political meritocracy outperforms dynastic politics resulting to a perception that party in power has no opposition. However there is huge space for opposition to balance the democratic system. Without active and decisive state leaderships that void cannot be fulfilled by so called high command’s office.
Political dynasty in democracy is a worldwide phenomenon having its presence in Asia, Sub Shaharan Africa, Europe, North and Latin America. Apart from Gandhis in India, many leaders like George W Bush of USA, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, the former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner come from politically influential families of the respective countries. Although power is inherited in monarchies but multiple times people in democracy choose their leaders from political families in free and fair elections as there is a visible advantage of political heirs for name recognition, better resources and access to the political system.
Many of the descendants of former political leaders are able to utilize this advantages of political capital created by their predecessors like prominent name, reputation, powerful network and a robust party machinery. But there is a degree of political acumen needed to manage the aforesaid capital. Devoid of that acumen, no heir would be able to ride the political tide. It is noteworthy to mention that no one is entitled to ANYTHING in the political system of a democracy unless it is achieved through wisdom and hard work. One may find this notion similar in India too. The entitlement of party positions and legislative offices should come to those leaders who have capability for political mass mobilization with zeal to lead from the front.
From 2014 to 2019, the time has changed and people’s mindset has changed. A politics of huge mass participation is being promoted by Modi through his way of doing politics. National politics as well as regional politics are no longer a coveted profession for people who have high office approach. Thus a new leadership at state level is emerging in BJP and is taking the Party ahead in election after election. Unlike Congress, the protectionism for the chosen few is absent in BJP. Whereas there is a continuous flow of new talents in BJP from across the party lines, meritocracy looms large in Congress due to Politics of Entitlement and Protectionism for heir apparent. This is debarring Congress to unleash its animal spirit to fight as opposition. It is bad for Congress, but worse for the country.
The ethos of “Political Dynasty with Entitlement of Office” brought by Congress party in 1970s was having a cascading effect on entire political system in India. No political party is untouched by that. The regional parties were fast to adopt it as it guarantees the power-sharing generation after generation. If one digs down details of election candidates or political office bearers across the party lines, one will realize that the model of dynastic politics is being copied diligently up-to Block level position of Gram Panchayat. Evidently, the top leadership had lost the moral right to put their foot down against nepotism as they themselves are protecting their kids to pass on their own political assets.
The failure of public goods and services by Central Governments led by Congress to people at state level was the reason of emergence of regional parties. A caste based politics was also playing a critical role to strengthen the regional parties who promised to fulfill the aspiration of its people. Surprising but true, most of these parties took no time to convert themselves to local dynasts. Centre was left to Congress unchallenged as local dynasts were engrossed in local politics. Congress made it sure that no capable mass leader should emerge from states who can challenge the Central Leadership. Congress politics was thus alienated from people and becomes a fiefdom to gain power only. May be the Protectionism had delayed the process of decay, but disintegration seems imminent now. Political capital cannot be kept in the Bank as it is lying with people and can be decayed to such an extent that it becomes non-transferrable.
Evidently the dilemma about the role of opposition for the parties promoting politics of dynasty start with the very basic fact that there is no entitlement of office unless power gets secured again. To become a part of a mass movement and bent back to voice the people’s aspiration do not motivate much if there is no prospect of imminent winning of election. The politics which promises to go to masses for the issues better employment, better health or better drinking water fails to catch the imagination of opposition to mobilize the masses. It may be annoying for many of the descendants in Congress, SP or RJD to reclaim the political capital of their predecessors once again through hard work at grass level. If there is no ambition to become a mass leader for people’s cause, there is no hope in current politics of India. Surely, Indians will be interested to listen to only those leaders, be at centre, state or grass level, who will be championed to fight for people’s cause. Feudal from of leadership is an absolute NO NO.
The space for opposition is wide open now. One may say that there is absolute vacuum. India is now a matured democracy and an astute leader is at the helm of it. Albeit the approach of BJP is of majoritarian politics, the government under Mr. Modi is pushing hard to promote social welfare schemes and is engaging people to participate. Where is the scope of doing politics as it was in 90s era? Political fights must be fought now at state, city and village level to bring back the animal spirit of opposition. In this process of revival of opposition, a good selection of devoted leaders who are really interested to take up people’s issue is paramount Meritocracy needs to outperform the dynastic mediocrity in the realm of opposition too. It appears that a new opposition will emerge with a new set of hard working leaders. A constructive opposition with a vision of betterment for its people will take charge and democracy will flourish further. (IPA Service)