India is a democratic country where all the executive offices are elected for, either directly or indirectly. But the problem of dynastic politics in India is causing a harsh and severe blow to the democratic system of our country.
For this analysis, ‘dynasts’ are defined as the politicians, at least one of whose relatives has been or continues to be an elected representative at any level. They include those whose relatives have served or are currently serving at prominent positions in party organizations.
The current scenario of Dynastic Politics
In the 17th Lok Sabha i.e., the current Lok Sabha, 30% of elected representatives are dynasts. There is not even a single Parliamentarian below the age of 30 years who does not come from a political background. The very system which was introduced to help eradicate ‘Hereditary Monarchy’ in Independent India, is being damaged severely to help dynastic political families in becoming the monarchs of our country.
Every political party has dynastic leaders. Of the two-national party, the Indian National Congress remains the more dynastic, with 31% of its candidates in the 2019 elections coming from political families. While the Bhartiya Janta Party is catching up, having drawn 22% of its 2019 candidates from political families. That the ratio of dynasts among MPs is higher than among general election candidates indicates that by and large, dynasts do make strong nominees after all. In fact, even though a prominent few dynasts did not win the elections this time, this phenomenon is only growing. With this kind of data, one can very easily make out that there is absolutely none or very little internal democracy within the political parties.
The Nehru-Gandhi Family
It may seem to one that the Nehru-Gandhi family is the center of dynastic politics in India. This family has held the reigns of Congress leadership over the generations. The involvement of the Nehru-Gandhi family started with the involvement of Motilal Nehru in the Indian Politics in the early 1900s, during the Pre-Independent India. In 1912, Indian Politics saw the entry of Jawaharlal Nehru (Motilal Nehru’s son). He became the General Secretary of the INC in 1923. He attained quite a reputation and in 1947, when Indians attained independence, Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India.
His daughter, Indira Gandhi joined politics in 1958. She became the Prime Minister of India in 1966. She was voted out in the 1977 general elections and staged a comeback in 1980 and remained the Prime Minister until she was assassinated in 1984. Indira Gandhi’s elder son, Rajiv Gandhi entered Congress in 1981 and became the Prime Minister of India in 1984. In 1989, the Congress lost power and two years later, in 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. His wife, Sonia Gandhi, joined politics in 1997 and became the President of the Congress and remained the President of the Congress up until 2017 when her son, Rahul Gandhi, who joined politics in 2004, assumed the post. Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter, Priyanka Gandhi Wadra became the General Secretary of the INC just two months prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Competition among dynastic political families
Despite being the pioneer of dynastic politics in India, the Nehru-Gandhi family or the Congress in not solely the paragon. Many other national, as well as regional parties, practice the same. There are examples of dynastic political families in almost every part of the nation – Mulayam Singh Yadav, his brother, his sons, and even his daughters-in-law (SP) in Uttar Pradesh.
The third generation of the Karunanidhi Family (DMK) (Tamil Nadu) have family members in both Central and State Governments. The Ram Vilas Paswan Family’s second generation (LJP) and Lalu Yadav’s entire family (RJD) reigns in Bihar. Rajesh Pilot’s family, Vasundhara Raje’s family, and Madhavrao Scindia’s family have dominance over Rajasthan. In Karnataka, the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, and his two grandsons in the JD(S) who fought the latest Lok Sabha elections. Bahujan Samaj Party’s President, Mayawati has also appointed his brother and nephew at high posts in her own party. Naveen Patnaik’s family has been reigning over Odisha for many years. This list is almost never-ending.
The best friends of dynastic politics are mediocrity and sycophancy while the worst enemy of dynastic politics is a meritocracy. A political leader achieves fame and status just because he is born in a particular political family. Such a leader chooses or appoints public offices, institutions of public delivery. The crumbling of such a system is inevitable.
Dynastic Politics is impeding the ideals of ‘democracy’ and ‘socialism’ as assured by the Constitution of India. It is simultaneously aggravating and promoting corruption in the Indian political system. We need to restore the true ideals of democracy when indulging in Indian Politics. And, ensure that power doesn’t remain concentrated in the hands of the privileged few.