Downfall of Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty
It didn’t come as a surprise when Congress President Rahul Gandhi offered to resign from the party’s top post after the humiliating defeat in the recent Lok Sabha elections. It’s not just the debacle but the manner in which the once formidable grand old party was reduced to the status of a pawn for two consecutive general elections, that dampened the spirit of the party leaders, members and loyalists like never before. The disappointment is evident with a slew of state Congress chiefs offering to put down their papers following the landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Being bitten twice, the party president himself had reportedly offered to step down at the recent Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting before being rejected by the committee. However, rumours are rife that he is adamant on resigning as the president of the party, taking complete responsibility for the colossal electoral defeat. Whether or not he sticks to his decision, it is obvious that he has taken the criticism of the BJP on Congress over “political dynasty” seriously as he is said to have come down heavily on the party stalwarts who pushed for their children’s candidature (smaller dynasties at local-level) in the recent general elections. But then, dynasty politics is not new to the Congress. So can Rahul point fingers at party members while he too was elevated to the position he is in today by virtue of being from a Nehru-Gandhi family? Well, he seems to be aware of it now and wants to do away with the old system, by example, starting with himself in order to pave way for a non-Nehru-Gandhi alternative to lead the party.
While the ailing party may try to regain lost ground by adopting new strategies and opting for a complete organisational overhaul, moving away from “dynasty politics” can be counterproductive after having depended on the family for sentimental and emotional bond with the voters for so long – since post India’s independence. Deviating from this ‘tried and tested’ system can throw the party into a dilemma, including tussles for leadership. However, change is inevitable if it wants to become a political force once again. Dynasty politics is responsible for the downfall of the party in some ways, at least in the last decade. Unlike in the past, people today can’t stand undemocratic concentration of power in the hands of a few or a privileged family. This calls for the need to shed the notion that the party won’t survive without a member of the Gandhi family leading it and take the unavoidable risk. Capable leaders, be it from the Gandhi family or any family from the country, should be given equal platform to lead the party. Leadership should be chosen through a democratic exercise and not by virtue of one’s family background. It’s time Congress gives more importance to upholding its ideology than looking for a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to helm the party if it wants to regain its lost glory and become a political force to be reckoned with. The sooner the party gets out of the political dynasty web, better the chances of bouncing back to power; and its resurgence is vital for the country as a strong opposition is as important as the ruling party in a democracy. India needs the Congress as much as the BJP, or any political party for that matter.