Thinking Together

It seems the Indian psyche has accepted dynastic politics whenever elections come. Tamil Nadu is no exception - to some extent, where it appears to be a case of "crash landing". How does CPI(M) view  this?

Asit Sengupta, West Bengal

THERE is a growing trend of dynastic politics in India. It was first manifested by the Nehru-Gandhi family in the Congress party.  Subsequently, it has spread and has now become a common occurrence, particularly, in the regional parties.  

If we look at the political map of the country, family/dynastic leadership prevails in the regional parties in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Odisha, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and other states.  In Punjab, the chief minister and deputy chief minister of the Akali Dal government are father and son and they are also the leaders of the party.  In Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, the current chief ministers are sons of former chief ministers and founders of the party. In Bihar, the RJD is characterised by family rule.

In Tamil Nadu, the DMK chief M Karunanidhi is being succeeded by his son, MK Stalin. In the case of the AIADMK, the death of its supreme leader J Jayalalithaa led to a power struggle and the assumption to leadership  of VK Sasikala, though not a blood relative of the former, can be considered as a surrogate family member.  

The rise of dynastic politics is the outcome of two developments.  Firstly, many parties revolve around one leader.  Being leader-centric, they had no consistent ideology or programmes. Neither was there a team of leaders.  In such a situation, the authority of leadership was passed on to the son/daughter of a leader and, in some cases, the spouse.

The second development which promoted dynastic politics is the increasing intertwining of politics and business.  Being in government, the leader and the family of the party enriched themselves and began amassing wealth and controlling a variety of businesses. The wealth and property so accumulated itself became the incentive to perpetuate the party leadership within the family. For instance, in Punjab, the Badal family is known to have extensive stakes in various businesses. Protecting and carrying forward these business enterprises becomes an essential part of the leadership’s goals.  

In the neoliberal era, this merging of personal and public interests and the political and business realms has assumed this form of dynastic/family rule, wherein the old feudal values of patronage and loyalty gets absorbed into this basically anti-democratic phenomenon.  

In a society where caste and kinship loyalties have a hold, such a political manifestation seems to be a natural phenomenon to quite a number of people.  

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