The Telegraph
Friday , January 25 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Compared to the stunning debut of the Congress vice-president, the new president of the Bharatiya Janata Party looks like someone who is tired and belongs to the past. There was nothing new or fresh about the appointment. Nor was the selection laced with potential or hope. If the Congress is accused of subscribing to dynastic rule, the media should also slam the BJP for succumbing to the pressure exerted by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh when the time comes to elect a person to an important post. The party talks about strengthening democracy, but in practice it has remained subservient to the RSS. That is politics in India. We operate within our parivars, be it in a private or public space.

The BJP accuses the Congress of being led by one parivar, but it ignores the fact that members of that family have gone out into the field and fought, won and lost elections in a democratic manner. If Rahul Gandhi has been made the vice-president without the casting of ballots, how is Rajnath Singh’s appointment any different? The BJP has no moral right to attack the Congress on such issues as it remains equally conservative when it comes to the sangh parivar and its diktats.

Naveen Patnaik entered politics upon his father’s death, but has gone on to win three terms as chief minister. Vasundhara Raje, the daughter of rajmata Scindia, has won and lost polls as well. Sharad Pawar can spout as many sarcastic comments as he wants to about Rahul Gandhi’s new assignment but we all know how he has propped up his nephew as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra and put his daughter in charge of his fiefdom.

Damage control

I am always amazed at how these men and women can say what they do, that too with a straight face, as if they are not a part of the same syndrome that has become a feature of our federal republic. Yet it is also true that leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Mayavati, Nitish Kumar and those from the Left parties have contested and won as individuals. Thus, both categories exist together. India wants its elected representatives to add value to their constituencies and get on with the job at hand, much like the entrepreneurs of India and Bharat.

The real problem is not where these men and women come from, but their failure, thus far, to deliver the bare minimum that could have made the country more stable and prosperous for its people. The Opposition has decided not to reach a consensus on issues of national concern. The media, too, have allowed themselves to be used as a platform for levelling hysterical charges and counter-accusations, thereby diluting the integrity of the fourth estate. The politicians, largely unacceptable to ordinary citizens, have made a laughing stock of themselves. Over the years, unelected power brokers have called the shots, thereby destroying the ethos of democratic, inclusive governance.

The political mindset needs a radical overhaul. This can only be done by those who are not carrying the baggage of the recent past, and have been exposed to the larger world, people who aspire to improve the situation for the sake of their own generation. The system cannot be operated upon by tired and failed men with their predictable responses to corroded and corrupt institutions.

What Rahul Gandhi’s generation can learn from the ‘elders’ is ‘How not to do it’. The inept governance and management we have had to bear need to be overhauled to change the narrative. The men and women who have damaged the established mechanisms and processes must reinvent themselves and do some prayashchit during their retirement.