Politics of dynasty knows no boundaries

December 15, 2001 (IPS) ² The election of George W. Bush as president eight years after his father left the White House, and Makiko Tanaka's induction as Japan's foreign minister some 25 years after her father was premier, proves that dynastic politics is not a preserve of Third World democracies and dictatorships. Even industrialized democracies are not immune to the politics of dynasty. Although the Kennedys were the most famous Western political dynasty, the Bush election is the second instance in American history of a father-son presidency. In the developing world, elected political dynasties have been rather common, a generally accepted feature of the political horizon. But of late, a new phenomenon is emerging, namely, the emergence of "republican dynasties" in authoritarian states. It started with North Korea when after the death of President Kim Il-Sung, his son Kim Jong-Il became his successor in 1994, thereby creating the communist world's first dynasty. Explore Cultures, Cities Subscribers Sign-In and Countrysides with the Home Inquisitive Traveler Memory Training For Students Decrease your study time and increase your grades with The Students Winning Edge
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after the death of Syria's President Hafez al Assad. to succeed him. the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi. one-party states where the long-standing leader ensured a smooth succession because of his total control over the state and party machinery.1977. and political dynasties dominate local politics so much that there have been demands for laws against these dynasties. now spanning four generations. Qusai Hussain. ruling for 37 of India's 53 years as an independent state. and Rajiv Gandhi ruled during 1984-1989. India's Nehru family is probably the world's oldest democratic dynasty. became prime minister.P. Bangladesh will see the coming electoral contest between two iron-willed women. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was prime minister during 1971. Chandrika Kumaratunga. from 19702000. South Asia has proved the most fertile ground for political dynasties. a total of 49 years. Koirala's two other brothers were prime ministers as well ² the only instance of three brothers serving in such high elective office. widow of President Ziaur Rahman. Saddam Hussain is grooming his son. After the recent massacre of the entire royal family. Sri Lanka and Nepal all have a resilient tradition of electing dynasties to the top office. These were Jawaharlal Nehru from 1947-1964. now heads the Congress Party and she is also leader of the opposition. is president. for instance. and his daughter Benazir was elected for two stints as prime minister during the 1990s. while Assad's rule lasted for 30 years. All three instances are from highly centralized. Kim Il-Sung for instance ruled from 1945 to 1994. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Pakistan. India. Bangladesh. the first woman from a Muslim state to head a government. He recently elevated his 35-yearold son to the membership of the policy-making Regional Command of the Baath Party. and Khaleda Zia. His widow. In Iraq too.Last year. . producing the only team of grandfather-daughter-grandson prime ministers. Sri Lanka started its tradition in 1960 when Prime Minister Solomon Bandranaike's widow. In Pakistan. the king's brother took over. In the Philippines too. after taking over in a Baath Party-backed military coup. Take Nepal. Now her daughter. daughter of President Mujibur Rahman. Saddam Hussain has exercised absolute power since 1975. Sirimavo Bandranaike. Indira Gandhi from 1966-1977 and again from 1980-1984. his son Bashar became his successor. dynastic politics is quite widespread -President Gloria Macapagal is daughter of a president. Prime Minister G.

but some explanations could be easier to understand. their legitimacy is unquestioned and widely accepted. Ziaur Rahman and . Former U. Tanaka. sometimes generations. Political lineage buttressed by money helps facilitate that entry. Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa's son is now filling his father's shoes in the same slot. with enough credentials due to a famous political surname to ensure a place on the political pedestal. uncles or aunts. Three seem logical. mothers or grandmothers." What are the causes behind the emergence of political dynasties.S. talked of American political dynasties coming "in all sizes and flavors. termed India "a democracy of dynasties. The Nehru family in India. even in democratic societies? Hard-and-fast answers may be difficult to find. that democratic "purists" and critics in India should stop "moaning about how we alone in the world have been loaded with politicians whose fathers or grandfathers. great-uncles or great-aunts or plain cousins also happen to be politicians. presidential election. money. Peron of Argentina. an Indian newspaper. who wrote America's Political Dynasties. Megawati Sukarnoputri in Indonesia. resources and have the requisite connections find an entry into what is often an exclusive if not closed club. access to the political system in most countries is costly in terms of money and only those who can afford the time. Bush.Such dynasties are quite common in American state and local politics as well. there are those whose leadership is etched in the popular imagination. Bhutto. writing in April this year in a run-up to state elections. Kim Il-Sung are some examples from this genre." After the last U. Bandranaike. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's son was a Cabinet official under Clinton and campaign manager for Gore.Indian Express. Macapagal-Arroyo fit the bill for what can be termed as politicians from Establishment families. and why do they remain resilient for decades. for dynasties and by dynasties. such as an independence struggle ² hence. gleefully wrote on November 8.S. Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. vice president Al Gore¶s father was a senator. 2000. Hafez al Assad in Syria. Gore. and for people to identify with such a charismatic leader comes almost automatically." The Times of India. First. Finally. American scholar Stephen Hess. Then there are those who are respected for rendering services to their country during crucial periods.

Whatever the cause. Article Index | Top . or. whether it is a socialist one-Party regime. which is then sometimes "transferred" to their scions and close relatives. just a plain old traditional democracy.Mujibur Rahman in Bangladesh. a right-wing Republican presidency or an Islamic republic. more often than not having a famous surname helps in politics. for that matter. the Kennedys in the United States all were populists with charisma.

They are families that have learnt that what has been secured be better kept within the family. 2008 16:42 IST Share this Ask Users Write a Comment Hear! Hear!! Rahul Gandhi [ Images ] has spoken and made a point: giving tickets to family members of party leaders to contest elections 'undermines' the party because what has troubled the country is 'family'. there would have been public outrage and the umbrage would have been publicly conveyed to the politician frustrated that the generation next has been denied an opportunity. more equal among equals. if you decide to start with Motilal Nehru. understands is the start of dynastic politics in this country. Had he not been the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Probably Nehru did not mean to have daughter Indira Gandhi [ Images ] to be the prime minister. Had she not been of the Nehru house? That. and 'patronage'. which in this cannot happen because his mother (Congress President Sonia Gandhi [ Images ]) is the high command. I hope. 'money'. He is actually the point he is trying to make. But poor Alva does not know that there are people like Rahul Gandhi. The dynast spoke . he would have had his knuckles rapped by the party high command. But power. You don't have to look far. making it the fourth. but she became. has been from the time of Jawaharlal Nehru [ Images ].How political dynasties have undermined India November 12. and its transfer within the bloodline. Such blasphemy from Alva should actually be no different from what has been said by the fifth generation in the Nehru family. See how she has been asked to resign all her party posts because she did whine that her son was denied a ticket for elections in Karnataka [ Images ] and that some tickets were sold. precisely because of his birth in a family. The latest is the example of Margaret Alva. Denial of opportunities Had it been anyone else. the young politician by inheritance.

So it is wisdom. Patronage That is why we have apparently 'selected'. a mother-in-law or even a sister-in-law to keep the seat warm for them till the reservation is vacated. their stranglehold and ability to dispense patronage and in some cases. a sister. So much so. thought it may not be widespread. You see. Or Sangli where virtually everyone connected with the late Vasantdada Patil's family got his share of the public pie. and not 'elected' representatives in such constituencies. or even Baramati. of course in fits and starts. though some kith and kin have conducted them exemplarily and made a contribution . That is why his blunt conveyance of his displeasure has not made Mama Sonia Gandhi angry. These are .dies. But let us not forget that Rahul's daddy would not have become a prime minister and would only continued to fly planes had he not been the son of Indira Gandhi. colourful. a mother. as in Akluj in Maharashtra [ Images ]. not like the one long journey across the vivid. even if indirectly. she is not.panchayat to Parliament -. It starts in the village panchayats. in achieving the right numbers and continued presence of a party nominee. You are spared. poor and subjugated country that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi [ Images ] undertook at the behest of Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Now that Rahul Gandhi is on a travel across the country. One does not have to look only to Lalu Prasad Yadav [ Images ] for making his wife chief minister of Bihar or Mulayam Singh Yadav [ Images ] for helping make Akhilesh Yadav. now the dynast has spoken. there are constituencies. is the main cause for the votes going their way. Just like Alva likes hers. That would be quite educative to the young man who is a self-confessed learner of reality. a daughter. Men who have to sidestep because positions are reserved for women have almost invariably managed to find a wife. leading to a swift upbraiding. Keeping it warm Let us not forget that once a sitting member of an elected body -.In other words. a member of Parliament. be it the village panchayat or the Lok Sabha. daughter or widow as a candidate in by-elections. That was the Congress contribution to Indian democracy. it was the Congress that used the argument those in difficult situations. there is hardly a party where such tendencies have been curbed. he may learn a lot more about the local political families of the Congressmen who have held local people in thrall in their fiefdoms and survived by paying their tributes to the Nehru-Gandhi family. All parties are touched by this malaise. That was the moment when Congressmen decided that family is best to protect their own self-interests. Fiefdoms That is why you have promotion of self-interest on the pretext of public interest as the primary ambition of each politician in the ranks of the Congress party and it has spread to other political parties as well. and so news. The examples abound. put the scare. That was promoting a family. Rahul Gandhi's mama likes the son. 'the sympathy factor' worked best with the emotional Indians and opted for a son.

It. Conrad and James. She is competing for his old seat. or well. the list can go on and on. Agatha's father PA Sangma. According to me. There are examples in Andhra Pradesh. India's latest political dynasty? By Alastair Lawson BBC News A bye-election in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya on Thursday could result in the formation of a new political dynasty. What better than patronage of a powerful family. such nepotism undermines the nation because those who deserve to be in positions and m ake a difference to the country are not allowed to move beyond the fringes. of places and people across the wide. according to him. she will be the fourth member of her immediate family to hold public office. or in Tamil Nadu. He has been reported as saying that he hopes his family's achievements will be recognised by Guinness World Records. undermines the party. Technically. Mr Sangma's two sons. big country. they are 'elected' but in reality. Experts say she will also become the youngest sitting MP in parliament. The point made by Rahul Gandhi is quite right. patronage matters. without apparent end. even if it is localised in its reach? It is only a replication at the bottom of the heap of the ills at the apex. at the micro-level. to family fiefdoms where they take control of all elected offices by the sheer strength of the influence they wield and the people only rubber stamp them on the ballot papers. 'Suffering' Mr Sangma's decision to resign from the lower house of the Indian parliament (Lok Sabha) and become a member of Meghalaya's state assembly means she could become the third of his children to hold public office. is India's former parliamentary Speaker. forced down the people's throat. If Agatha Sangma is elected to the Indian parliament after the vote. Top to bottom These give rise. Ms Sangma has a fine political pedigree . are already members of the state assembly. In India [ Images ].places where the family matters above all.

The Sangma name is commonplace in Meghalaya If previous statistics are anything to go by." she said. some of his supporters launched a campaign to install his son as his successor. "I don't think we have had a situation like this before in India . "I am standing for election because I have seen the difficulties faced by Garo tribes people of the state and want to dedicate my life towards alleviating their suffering. "PA Sangma has been in politics for 30 years . there was pressure to appoint him the chief minister Rahul Gandhi is tipped by many to be a future Indian PM . But within hours of his father's death." she said. the Delhi-based lawyer has had to fight off allegations that her candidacy means that the Sangma family is forming a new Indian political dynasty. He had never held any public office. "Sangmas do not have a record of losing elections. Ms Sangma has a good chance of winning Dynastic politics takes hold of India By Sanjeev Srivastava BBC News. Thursday's vote.Throughout the campaign." Ms Mukhim says that a new Indian political dynasty could be emerging." says Shillong Times editor Patricia Mary Mukhim.where four immediate family members have all been in simultaneous public office. the popular chief minister of Andhra Pradesh state. Delhi As Indians were reeling from the sudden death of YSR Reddy. Jagan Mohan Reddy had made his electoral debut only a few weeks ago by successfully contesting parliamentary elections.elected no less than nine times to the Lok Sabha .and hardly ever has been beaten in a popular vote. The move was seen as both brazen and bizarre by many political analysts already concerned about the rise of dynastic politics in India.

His challengers include a powerful rebel and incumbent lawmaker who was given the boot by the party's leadership to accommodate the president's son. But the Congress leadership's attitude the issue of family and dynastic rule. That would dilute the authority of the party's central leadership (a euphemism for the Gandhi family) and encourage other powerful state leaders to think in terms of carving out their own fiefdoms.of a large and prosperous state. There are several reasons why the Congress leadership is not keen on obliging Mr Reddy junior. Such is the stranglehold of dynasties that even the son of the president of India has secured a party nomination . It does not want to give the impression that anyone can dictate terms to them. daughters and close family members of Congress leaders. Dynastic rule A senior congress leader and party general secretary told me that the possibility of Jagan Mohan Reddy being made the chief minister was "zero". the governing party in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Congress is not alone in succumbing to the pull and pressures of kinsmen in politics. Thousands of mourners turned out to pay their respects to Mr Reddy towards Jagan Mohan Reddy should not be seen as any major rethink in the party on . Iron hand So Mr Karunanidhi and his family call the shots in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The recently released list of candidates for the forthcoming state elections in the western state of Maharashtra is dominated by the sons. In regional parties the top rungs of the power structure are almost completely dominated by the extended family of the ruling elite. which is also a partner in the governing coalition in Delhi. The same holds true for most other political parties.kicking off a row in the process. The efforts are still continuing but the Congress leadership looks in no mood to oblige. An elevation of the inexperienced Mr Reddy would be certain to invite much criticism and ridicule.

Pawar. In these instances power is completely centralised in the The Sangmas from Meghalaya are one of hands of one individual. Scindhia. "I know I am a product of this [dynastic politics] system. So this power list includes a Gandhi. leader of AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. Dutt.dubbed as the future of Indian polity . Abdullah.. runs India's largest state of Uttar Pradesh with an iron hand and Jayalalitha. but they have also usurped the right of ordinary Indians to secure nominations from mainstream political parties to contest elections. the list of illustrious political families in the national parliament can go on and on! They may all be bright young men and women but in the constituencies they represent. Deora. a normally very sure -footed and smooth-talking management graduate. the Thackeray family runs Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and Ajit Singh and his family wield considerable influence in parts of Uttar Pradesh.Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family run the RJD in Bihar. Pilot. second-term MP and a minister in the central government. Choudhary. is known for her autocratic ways. . Rahul Gandhi has more than once acknowledged the problem dynastic politics presents. the low caste leader. many political families So Mayawati. the Badals run the Akali Dal in Punjab. Big challenge Another scion of a political family is Sachin Pilot. Yadav. But can't I try and change it?" So far he has not done much to reverse the trend. Sangma. Prasad.. Even the much hyped youth brigade in the national parliament . Satpathy.largely comprises MPs who come from political families. An interesting aside is the case of the political parties where the top leader is single.

"Ultimately people decide. supposedly the world's biggest. Maurya. like a phoenix rising from the ashes. . Ladies and gentlemen . a new dynasty came alive in India. The British had effectively gotten rid of dynasties in India and India was heading towards being a true democracy with elected officials and all ! But. was a little more candid. They warn that unless the trend is checked there is a real danger that a few hundred families will completely corner the political market. In each subsequent election you are judged on your performance and the more powerful and mighty a family you represent the chances are the voter will judge you that much more harshly and critically at the time of elections. A dynasty so pure in its culture that misfits are weeded out almost instantly to make way for new seed (pun intended). We suddenly starting talking in English and wearing pants/shirts with stifling ties (in 50 degC) just to please some babu. Vijayanagar and all the great dynasties of India«there was a lull. from whatever background they come. Laloo Prasad Yadav's family dominates the Bihar political landscape "But the voter as well as the party takes to you kindly only the first time. So whoever said that India is a democracy with elected officials was probably some gu who had y blinkers on and never read the papers or never went turned on the TV. A dynasty with such chosen few that even a great soul cannot break into its ranks. has to win an election. POLITICAL DYNASTY OF INDIA (1947 ± ?) After the Gupta. Pandya. Doomsday soothsayers go a step further and say India practises feudalism in the garb of democracy.. Everyone. Chera. say hello to the Political Dynasty (1947 ± forever). son of a former chief minister and third-term MP. The rest of them have a simple true/false question to answer and that qualifies them to be a politician. ." Tathagata Satpathy. Chola. most alive and representative democracy? Political scientists see family rule and political dynasties posing a big challenge." So where does that leave the Indian political system. This guy for sure did not know that India is still ruled by kings and queens and very few people are elected by an actual democratic process. He admitted that coming from powerful political families helps to get a party ticket which is crucial in the context of Indian elections.He was quite predictable when I asked him to react to those who blame political dynasties for making the Indian political system more restrictive for average Indians.

7. 1000 years from now. And how can anyone forget Lalu and his wife Rabri. youth wings of various parties. But here is what peeves me ² he was inducted into Congress on the birthday of his dad with a huge rally to commemorate the event. P. a doctor/software However. 5. Why should that not be allowed? Is it because politics is simpler and fixing a person¶s heart difficult? I don¶t think there is any difference. How sweet . Well. One became a CM (Kumaraswamy) and the other wanted to swallow the power ministry (Revanna). But what angers me is the ease with which their children get into politics. now having said all this . canvassing. 6. An MP ² not a panchayat sarpanch.. here is a throwback to ancient times. Avoiding conflicts with our neighbors and providing 24 hours security/food/perfume to terrorists is a 24×7 task which is not simple and there should be a better way to chose our elected representatives. I am fully aware that most politicians come from humble backgrounds and that they have made it big by starting young. these poli-kids (presumably) learn the nitty-gritties of political maneuvers. I appreciate that and I thank for the sacrifice since I am not capable of doing it. Shall we set a date for the anointment ceremony. the poster boy of the Congress. we don¶t want the West to deny the existence of this dynasty due to the lack of written data. Remember how Arjuna¶s son Abhimanyu learned how to break out of the chakravyuha while he was in his mother¶s womb? Same logic applies here «. Then down South. if by the virtue of position of the stars in the northern hemisphere you answered ³yes´ ²then you need not study/go to college/work. Representing Tamil Nadu ± Karunanidhi and his children ± Stalin and Kanimozhi. You are fit to commandeer her into the next decade/century«. 1. campaigning while in their mother¶s womb thus making them eligible to join politics. They had to work hard and become international luminaries before they were allowed to make policy decisions.Q) Is your father/mother/uncle/aunt/close relative a politician? If the answer is no. right from their college days by taking part in student politics. 3. Look at Abdul Kalam and Shashi Tharoor. party-switching.. for those who couldn¶t understand how by birth a person can be a successful politician. Somehow I think there are a lot of people missing in this list. . because you are all set to rule India. so please feel free to add to the family tree of the Political Dynasty.. We shall henceforth assume 1947 is the start year of the political dynasty. can we take a cue from the netas? Let¶s make doctors¶ children doctors. So. Maneka Gandhi. And boy. Murasoli Maran and his son Kalanidhi Maran from Tamil Nadu. back-stabbing. Hearty Congratulations. Well technically they are not a fatherdaughter combo but they have all intentions of keeping Bihar in their pajama pockets. 8. And not to mention Pandit Nehru. 2. Engineers¶ children should automatically become engineers ² with or without a degree to boot. 4. then you might as well think of becoming engineer/lawyer/blogger/call center employee/run-of-the-mill job employee/etc. Indira Gandhi. Why they are deemed the chosen few? Why the right to lead the country is handed to them on a silver platter? This is nepotism of the highest degree. isn¶t it? Rajesh Pilot (dad) and Sachin Pilot (son) who has a degree from Wharton (so he is pretty well read). Rajiv Gandhi and the reigns have now passed on to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.A Sangma and his daughter who became an MP. moneypilfering. etc. Right? Before anyone pounces at me and accuses me of targeting politicians« let me play the Devils¶ Advocate too. we have the sons of DeveGowda wreaking havoc. did they teach the politicos a thing or two. Ah«. Sanjay Gandhi. Here is a small list of the political dynasty from 1947 onwards.. Rahul.

Alas! he did not command the numerical strength to justify a cabinet birth for each of his sons/daughters/grand nephews. MP ± M for Muder. off late this virus has been contracted by practically every state satrap be it Lalu-Rabri & Paswans in Bihar. no political party in India. without exception. I am tired of being a backseat driver too. Abdullahs & Sayeeds in J&K. Not only do they shamelessly promote their kith and kins. Indian political history is replete with instances of dynastic successions. Patnayaks in Orissa. provides any space for dissent. P for Politcs ) . they run their parties as personal fiefdoms. While the leaders give customary lip service to democracy. that dissent is the true essence of democracy. will confirm that our democracy is only skin deep. Hope I am not alone in this opinion. is symptomatic of the same problem. I am bored of seeing the ³Gandhi´ clan rule India. How can such a situation be conducive to the growth and prosperity of democratic values in our polity? Not too long ago. Pawars & Thakerays in . They also prevent free voicing of opinions. Badals in Punjab. their autocratic streak is all too evident in their dealings within their own political parties. Inner Party Democracy7 SEP 25 Note: This is the second part of the three part series on Next Generation Electoral Reforms (other two ± Intership for MPs & MLAs . but he gave the Congress negotiators a tough time anyway. Any contrarian voice against the ruling clique even at µInner Party Fora¶ leads to swift expulsion. Even though it is now established. Led by the redoubtable Nehru-Indira Gandhi-Rajeev-Sonia-Rahul. One look at the leadership of various political parties in India. The recent clamour in Andhra Pradesh for anointing the political novice son of the late Chief Minister as the next CM. Government formation at the Center was held hostage to the the equitable distribution of power within the progeny of Karunanidhi from his three marriages.So I ask you « what do you think about this matter? What can be done about this? What can anyone do about this? Looking forward to hearing comments if any.

in most cases it is a mere formality. specious argument that one should not object to politician¶s son being a politician when there is no objection to a doctor¶ son becoming doctor. Even otherwise. We need to devise a model where party members duly elect their candidates for each constituency after following a due process. sale of party tickets to the highest bidder has also come to light. Active electioneering is discouraged and a consensus is concocted to keep the status quo going. . It plays a crucial role in deciding not just the candidates but also the µparty line¶ on critical issues. does not hold much water. Obviously it is at the cost of other more deserving leaders and it discourages those without such affiliations to enter politics. nomination of candidates for elections by Political parties is done without any tranparent due process. Goudas in Karnataka. In some cases. Normally the political satrap¶s whim becomes the will of the people. Karunanidhi clan in TN etc. Hence political parties can not be left soley to the discretion of the their leaders alone. Party system is an integral part of parliamentary democracy. It is almost akin to a business or a monarchical succession. The objections are not just based on the sons/daughters/nephews/wives joining politics but more importantly on the complete absence of any due process and the walkover awarded to these star politicians.. It will also have a direct impact on the kind of people joining politcs and a bearing on the choice available to the elecotorate. The examples are endless on both sides of the divide. but it has an important bearing on the quality of choice (or lack of it) available to the electorate.P. They needs to be more tightly regulated by an outside agency.Maharashtra. The oft repeated. This µparty line¶ is then enforced in the legislatures using the anti-defection bill. engineer¶s son being engineer etc. It is subject to the whims of the ruling clique. . Inner party democracy will add more depth and meaning to our democracy. It may seem like an internal matter of the respective political party.. Hence this process to needs to be brought under public scrutiny. While the election commission mandates timely election of party functionaries. if required. Mulayam clan in U.