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Congress has a deeper problem than Gandhis

As expected, Congress was one of the worst performers in this last election cycle, and as expected, the demands for the (justifiable) removal of the Sonia-Rahul-Priyanka Gandhi trio from the leadership of affairs have resumed.

But much of the analysis, which combines the collapse of Congress with a growing condemnation of the dynastic politics of Indian voters, fails.

The crisis in Congress is much deeper than family leadership.

The crisis in Congress is much deeper than family leadership

While there can be little doubt that Congress is decomposing under the (un) leadership of the Gandhi family, reflected in the party’s gruesome graphic election (and the endless exodus of leaders), voters don’t seem to have any problems. dynastic politics in itself. If anything, with the exception of the Gandhi family, the appetite of Indian voters for dynastic politics seems to have diminished.

Today, the dynasties are the seven chief ministers of India’s major states: MK Stalin (Tamil Nadu), Navin Patnaik (Odisha), Uddhav Thackeray (Maharashtra, with another dynasty – Ajit Pawar – as his deputy), Basavaraj Bommai (Karnataka), Jagan Mohan Reddy (Andhra Pradesh), KCR (Telangana), Hemant Soren (Jharkhand). The list goes even further if it includes family-run parties that have been almost agitated in recent elections, from Hoodas in Haryana to Tejaswi Yadav in Tomorrow. As elections are held in the small territory of the Union of Jammu and Kashmir, the Abdullah and Mufti families continue to be the main actors in the village, especially in the Kashmir Valley.

In particular, the narrative that links the rise of the BJP to its rejection of dynastic politics is becoming increasingly indifferent, at least not because of its tendency to hire an extensive list of congressional dynasty deserters – Jyotirarditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, and so on.

Next up is the gallery of BJP’s inner dynasties, now immersed in WhatsApp images showing BJP parents showing their BJP children side by side (Rajnath Singh / Pankaj Singh, Prem Kumar Dhumal / Anurag Thakur, Ved Prakash Goyal / Piyush Goyal, Gopinath Munde / Pankaja Munde, to name a few.)

The India Spend website has found that the parliamentary scrutiny of the previous two decades in 2019 shows that the percentage of BJP parliamentary-level dynasties is not very different from that of Congress. “Since 1999, Congress has had 36 dynasty members of parliament elected by Lok Sabhara, with the BJP behind it with 31,” the report says.

So what explains this apparent paradox of the longevity – even the spread – of dynastic politics and the rejection of the family Congress?

Simply competition.

As we have just seen, contrary to popular perception, dynasty is not a responsibility. It remains an enabling tool that reduces barriers to entry into Indian politics, such as wealth or a politically significant caste. But as with caste or money power, proper pedigree is not an automatic guarantee of success, certainly not in this hyper-competitive electoral environment of today. The dynasties that have crossed the line of victory are not only responsible for their political achievements, but also for their family name (often after great trial and error) for getting the basics right: decisive and focused, building a party network from the ground up, sewing. consequent alliances, and crucial, the ability to adapt to the new realities of how elections are fought in the Modi-Shah era.

In other words, you can enter the door of the dynasty. Maybe even some early victories for sure. But in the end, it is the political power that greatly increases your chances of overcoming it.


Jagan Reddy’s complete victory is an example of the Dynasty plus approach

Consider, for example, Jagan Reddy, who, after losing his father, confronted his lack of experience, many cases of corruption, a break-up from his parents’ side (Congress) and political damage. -wise opponent (Chandrababu Naidu). Contrary to these predictions, his entire victory is an example of the Dynasty + approach: while his electoral design was based on taking advantage of his sympathy for his father’s death, his victory was driven by a deep and hard campaign designed by Prashant Kishor. What was not focused on the dynasty was the moving parts: from the uninterrupted padyatras of their opponents to the alleged mismanagement of their opponents to the laying of the foundations of a YSR Congress network, a lively social / traditional media campaign.

Optionally, there is the Stalin model. The father of DMK’s heir, M Karunanidhi, raised his son to the party ladder for five decades, and Stalin only appointed him minister when he was 53 years old, and finally when the time came he helped lower potential criticism of dynastic rights. Stalin to remove the throne (at age 69).


MK Stalin’s father, M Karunanidhi, raised his son up the party ladder for five decades.

The Gandhis, on the other hand, do not seem to be pursuing a recognizable plan, gradually squandering their dynastic capital with a surreal and dilettantist view of politics, showing that they do not need strict remedial measures despite the crisis. With every unresolved crisis, with every election failure, with every mysterious “holiday,” the dynastic brilliance fades more and more, the negative shadow of the right deepens and lengthens.

Some in the congressional ecosystem argue that the party’s decline has nothing to do with dynastic deviation and more so with the BJP’s erroneous elections. No one can raise, it is argued, the combined force of the party’s monetary power, the misuse of agencies, strict communalism, and so on. While the use (or misuse) of the political dark arts has increased. The BJP, the argument does not fully support how opposition parties outside Congress hold Mamata Banerjee to the AAP, even if the BJP fails one or two.

Therefore, it is a lazy analysis that the appointment of a non-Gandhi will significantly reduce the amount of money in Congress. While replacing Gandhis may help deflect some anti-dynasty reactions, the problems of Congress are much deeper – the party is so far removed from the reality of the current political rivalry that there is no guarantee that Gandhi is not one. heirs will go much better.

It’s hard to think of a single congressional leader, at least on his national spectrum, who has a passion for 24×7, the relentless work needed to rebuild the party from the bottom up, the effort it takes to fight the Modi-Shah election. juggernaut. Much of the party is caught up in a twisted election time, where fighting for elections still has to wait your turn, waking up in the last months before the election, holding a series of rallies and roadshows and waiting for voters. It will overturn the vote in favor of Congress.

Oddly enough, the Gandhians themselves seemed to have acknowledged a serious internal deficit, with the idea of ​​bringing in a whole outsider like Prashant Kishor briefly to crush the party’s crumbling election machinery (supposedly); this effort, like many punctual family interventions, has come to nothing for reasons that are still blurred.

Now, with a new set of election losses, the party faces a daunting dilemma: stay with Gandhi and risk further ado and constant attacks on parivar-vaad, or appoint a non-Gandhi, perhaps to alleviate some backlash against the dynasty, but it also loses the last vestiges of dynastic splendor without a guarantee that the latter will have the power or impetus to rescue the party. In truth, it is not clear whether the party even realizes that there is such an opportunity.

(Sreenivasan is the editor of Jain, NDTV)

Note: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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