Rahul Gandhi, the scion of a dynasty or a democrat? Photograph: (DNA)
From now Rahul will be judged by what he does, and not on the basis of how he has come to occupy the throne.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has finally accepted that he is the scion of a dynasty and so be it. The comment has come at a time when Congress is fighting the battle of its life in India where it seems to be losing state after state, barring exceptions like Punjab. Earlier all the attempts by the Congress were to project the young Gandhi like a natural successor who is liked by the workers.
This could not materalise because victory eluded the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh where Rahul Gandhi pegged his political gravitas thrice.
But the catch is that there is a difference between economic inheritance and control of political parties by a single family. In every society, children inherit the afterglow of successful careers of their parents. It either comes in the form of recognition or mutual obligation as they are known in the social circle. The above form of inheritance is natural.
The control of a political party by one family continuously for 40 years is an altogether another form of dynastic politics. In no way, it can be justified by saying that India works like this. Mr Gandhi can't partake goodness of modern education and while disavow its responsibility and duty. Today, you cannot be a democrat and dynast at the same time. It is a contradiction in term. It is not only a betrayal of one’s own education but to state it as a done thing is to compromise the lofty ideals of the republic which is about democracy and equality. Rahul Gandhi said that Congress is about a conversation but is it possible to have a conversation in the Congress where one can talk about a non-Gandhi running the Congress Party.
Today Congress is a cabal of multiple dynasties ranging from the centre to local levels all of whom owe their position to the Gandhis. One can even compare it with kingship which is sustained by like-minded clans and supported through stable succession at all levels.
Political dynasties kill democracy in political parties. They represent an abnormality in Indian political system. Rahul Gandhi’s statement may set him free him from the dynasty debate but the truth is that he has reached the top, not because of his own fitness but because he is the son of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The only silver lining for Rahul Gandhi is that he has started to position himself in direct contrast to Modi which was earlier missing.
From now Rahul will be judged by what he does, and not on the basis of how he has come to occupy the throne. This may sound dismissive but the fact is by stating his intention to run the system, he has set aside all apprehensions within the party. He needs acceptability and legitimacy from the public and to get it, he will have to work towards it.