When a dynasty read the future and It takes a Kumaratunga to pack up and quit

Nirupama Subramanian-Friday, February 28, 2014 Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the former re!ident of Sri "anka, ha! among her photograph! a #o$$e#tor%! item taken &hen !he &a! an 11-year-o$d gir$' Cro&ded into the frame are no $e!! than fi(e South )!ian rime *ini!ter! &ho !er(ed at different time! o(er fi(e de#ade! in the 20th Century+ her father S','-'.' Bandaranaike, mother Sirima(o Bandaranaike, her!e$f /!he &a! rime *ini!ter before !he &ent on to &in the pre!identia$ e$e#tion in 10041, 2a&ahar$a$ Nehru and 3ndira 4andhi' 5here might ha(e been !i6 rime *ini!ter! in that photograph had *r!' 4andhi taken her !on -a7i( a$ong on that (i!it to Co$ombo in 1089' )nother !#ion of the Nehru-4andhi fami$y i! no& preparing to $ead hi! party into an e$e#tora$ batt$e that #ou$d !ee him be#ome the fourth 3ndian rime *ini!ter from hi! fami$y' 5he &a(e! of doubt about hi! !uitabi$ity for the top 7ob #ra!h hope$e!!$y on a ro#k #a$$ed 5here 3! No )$ternati(e' 3ndeed, if there i! an a$ternati(e, that too i! be$ie(ed to e6i!t in the !ame fami$y'

S5: 3N4 )S3.:+ 5here i! !omething !eeming$y ine(itab$e about dyna!ty in demo#ra#ie! a#ro!! South )!ia but Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga /right1 ga(e up #ontro$ of a party founded and nurtured by her fami$y, and retreated from po$iti#! -ahu$ 4andhi i! on$y the $ate!t e(iden#e that there i! !omething !eeming$y ine(itab$e about dyna!ty in demo#ra#ie! a#ro!! South )!ia ; a &ido& !tepping into her !$ain hu!band%! !hoe!, a &ido&er !tepping into hi! a!!a!!inated &ife%! !hoe!, a daughter !tepping into her father%! !hoe!, a !on !tepping into hi! mother%! !hoe!' 3n 3ndia, it%! not 7u!t the Congre!! either' :(ery&here, po$iti#a$ dyna!tie! are the norm, be it the Nationa$ Conferen#e, the )ka$i .a$, the Sama7&adi arty, the .ra(ida *unnetra Ka<hagam, the Nationa$i!t Congre!! arty, the -a!htriya 2anata .a$, the Shi( Sena' 5he "eft partie! and the Bharatiya 2anata arty are e6#eption!' 5he dyna!ti# bug e6tend! beyond the $eader!hip to member! $o&er do&n the hierar#hy ; and here the B2 i! no e6#eption ; &ho treat #on!tituen#ie! $ike fiefdom! and pa!! them on from generation to generation' 3n aki!tan too, the aki!tan eop$e%! arty%! Bhutto! are #ounterpart! to the 4andhi!, a$ong &ith the Sharif! and other!' 2u!t $ike in 3ndia, po$iti#a$ fami$ie! are !pread a#ro!! partie!' 3t &ou$d be rea!onab$e to think that there #ome! a time in the $ife #y#$e of a party &hen it

begin! to =ue!tion the dimini!hing return! of dyna!ty, &hen it a!k! if it &ou$d not be better off under a $eader!hip that i! not inherited' 4oing by the foremo!t e6amp$e!, that point ha! not been rea#hed in 3ndia' .e!pite !uffering !e(era$ e$e#tora$ rout! in the $a!t fi(e year!, and the dyna!t%! o&n e(ident !trugg$e! to find hi! $eader!hip feet, the Congre!! #ontinue! to be$ie(e it! !a$(ation $ie! in the 4andhi fami$y' .e!pite being brui!ed by the ug$y infighting bet&een the !ib$ing! of the fir!t fami$y o(er !u##e!!ion to the $eader!hip and the inabi$ity of it! fading patriar#h to do anything to !top them, the .*K remain! !ub!er(ient to it! o&n dyna!ty' *urmur! of di!agreement, if any, are muted' 5he prob$em, of #our!e, i! that dyna!tie! do not mentor non-dyna!ty >other!% &ith $eader!hip #apabi$itie!' 5hat in turn en!ure!, in a !e$f-fu$fi$$ing prophe!y, that there are no rea$ a$ternati(e! or #ha$$enger! &hen #run#h time #ome!' )n e6#eption 3n#redib$y though, there i! in South )!ia an e6amp$e of a dyna!ty that, through a #ombination of po$iti#a$ #ir#um!tan#e! and per!ona$ #hoi#e!, #ut it!e$f a&ay from po$iti#!' ,hen that photograph in *!' Kumaratunga%! #o$$e#tion &a! taken in 1089, the Bandaranaike! #ou$d not ha(e kno&n that four year! $ater, they &ou$d inaugurate the fir!t po$iti#a$ dyna!ty in the &or$d' ) grie(ing Sirima(o &a! per!uaded to take on the $eader!hip of the Sri "anka Freedom arty after her hu!band%! a!!a!!ination in 1080' Si6ty year! $ater, the !u##e!!or to Sirima(o &ou$d a$!o be South )!ia%! fir!t and po!!ib$y on$y po$iti#a$ dyna!t to gi(e up #ontro$ of a party founded and nurtured by her fami$y, and retreat from po$iti#!' 3n a po$iti#a$ $and!#ape fi$$ed &ith the oppo!ite, it i! an e6amp$e that doe! not get to$d enough' *!' Kumaratunga !u##eeded her mother a! party $eader and &a! re!ident for t&o term! unti$ 2008' She &ou$d ha(e perhap! !tayed on to $ead the #ountry $onger had it gone a##ording to her !#ript' But the Con!titution, a! it &a! then, had a t&o-term $imit for the :6e#uti(e? her pro7e#t to bring in a ,e!tmin!ter-type par$iamentary demo#ra#y &ith a rime *ini!ter a! e6e#uti(e, a po!ition !he hoped to #ontinue in, &a! !#uppered by e$ement! &ithin her o&n party oppo!ed to her, and by the @ppo!ition' 3ndeed, her prime mini!teria$ ambition! are #ited a! one rea!on &hy her de(o$ution propo!a$! for the northea!t, part of the !ame pa#kage of Con!titutiona$ #hange!, did not !ee the $ight of day' *! Kumaratunga did try to !tay on another year on the ground that !he &a! !&orn in for her !e#ond term on$y in 2000, a year after her re-e$e#tion, but the #ourt ru$ed that !&earing-in #eremony a! in(a$id' *ahinda -a7apak!e had for year! been a #ha$$enger, and he !ei<ed the opportunity' o$iti#a$$y and $ega$$y outmanoeu(red, *! Kumaratunga &a! =ui#k to read the &riting on the &a$$, and !tepped do&n' By then, her popu$arity a! party $eader &a! not the !ame a! it &a! in 1004, &hen !he &a! #ho!en by her mother to take o(er the $eader!hip' She put a!ide her animo!ity to&ard! *r' -a7apak!e, and ba#ked hi! #andidature for pre!ident, e(en though !he #ou$d ha(e #ho!en her brother )nura' 3n the end, )nura, &ith a !tronger dyna!ti# !en!e of entit$ement, ne(er did !#a$e the pinna#$e of hi! ambition!' Ae had e(en 7oined the oppo!ition for a period to demon!trate hi! pi=ue again!t hi! mother%! #hoi#e of Chandrika a! her !u##e!!or o(er him' Ae &a! !ing$e and died in 2008' 5he e$de!t Bandaranaike daughter Sunethra, opted out of po$iti#! ear$y'

Chandrika made no $atera$ attempt to retain any fami$y inf$uen#e o(er the Sri "anka Freedom arty through $oya$i!t!' Bn$ike the Congre!!%! fir!t fami$y &ho ne(er !hut the door on the party, !he fe$t no need to keep a #orner for her!e$f a! in!uran#e for her!e$f or future generation! of the fami$y' She !$ipped ea!i$y into pri(ate $ife, and though no admirer of her !u##e!!or, ha! $arge$y kept her #oun!e$' *! Kumaratunga%! de#i!ion to retire &a! perhap! made !imp$er on#e !he had made up her mind not to indu#t her #hi$dren into po$iti#!' Not that they &ere not o$d enough &hen !he !tepped do&n C her daughter Da!odhara &a! 28 then, and &orking in the B'K' a! a do#tor, and her !on Eimukthi &a! 2F, !tudying to be a (eterinarian' ,hene(er !he en#ounter! !urpri!e that neither of her #hi$dren took up the mant$e, *! Kumaratunga%! rep$y i! that !he Gbrain&a!hed them again!t itH from ear$y on' 5oday, both #ontinue in their #ho!en #areer!, $i(ing out!ide the #ountry and keeping a $o& profi$e' 5he !ur(i(or of a dead$y a!!a!!ination attempt, un$ike both her father and hu!band &ho fe$$ to their a!!a!!in!% bu$$et!, Chandrika ne(er made any !e#ret of her fear for the $i(e! of her off!pring in the #ountry of their birth' @(er the $a!t fe& &eek!, there ha(e been rumour! about a #omeba#k bid by Chandrika a! re!entment bre&! in the S"F again!t re!ident -a7apak!e, &ho ha! rep$a#ed the Bandaranaike! &ith a !pra&$ing dyna!ty of hi! o&n' But there i! #ertain$y no #$amour for her or her #hi$dren to take o(er the $eader!hip of the S"F ' )nd if !he doe! de#ide to return, it might not e(en be to the origina$ party' Ao& doe! it matter that &e inherit our po!ition!, dyna!t! in South )!ian demo#ra#ie! often a!k, &hen &e too ha(e to fight e$e#tion! in order to earn our $egitima#y' 5he an!&er to that i! another =ue!tion+ ,ou$d Sta$in or @mar or -ahu$ or )khi$e!h ha(e got the $eader!hip opportunity they did had they not been part of a dyna!tyI By getting a pri(i$eged foot in the door ; both feet a#tua$$y C they effe#ti(e$y fore#$o!ed the opportunity for other! &ho might be better =ua$ified for tho!e po!ition!' 3t i! heartening that -ahu$ 4andhi under!tand! thi! C he did !ay on#e that he &ou$d not be &here he i! had it not been for hi! father, grandmother and great grandfather' But any e6pe#tation that he might turn hi! ba#k on the pri(i$ege of dyna!ty &a! be$ied' 3t take! a Kumaratunga to pa#k up and =uit' nirupama'!Jthehindu'#o'in

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