Has the Congress’s effort to identify with the
(common man) prompted it to strike out all references to royalty in its records and advise the party members not to use their titles?
The party’s growing emphasis on the common man and an egalitarian and inclusive politics has, however, coincided with the entry of a large number of members from erstwhile royal families to Parliament, with many of them known by their titles, including maharaja, raja, maharani, rajkumari and kanwar.
The move, however, appears to be an acknowledgement of two other things: one, the changing demographic profile in which the concept of royalty does not tie up with the aspirations of a burgeoning middle class and the growing number of youths; and two: Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi’s efforts to broadbase and democratise the Youth Congress through elections.
“The use of such titles is misplaced in a Republic,” said a Congress functionary, adding “Some members of the former royal families have even been using their titles in official communication.”
But those outside the Congress fold believe that shun-title move is aimed at the common man.
“Their plank is inclusive politics. But the party gave tickets to youngsters from political or royal families and to
crorepatis. Until the Congress broadbases its recruitment and places a premium on merit, such gestures will remain symbolic,” said Subroto Mukherjee, former head of political science, Delhi University.
CPI national secretary D. Raja said: “It is merely tokenism. If the Congress believes it should identify with the common man, it must come up with actions and policies that do so."
He recalled how in Tamil Nadu, as part of the anti-Brahmin movement, DMK leaders gave up their caste names and started their educational qualifications instead, since education was the domain of the Brahmins.
The Congress leaders are unwilling to put a figure to the list of titled MPs and leaders from the party. But they include, among others, Virbhadra Singh, Noor Bano, Ratna Singh, Preneet Kaur, Chandresh Kumari, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sanjay Singh RPN Singh, Jitendra Singh, Karan Singh and Digvijay Singh to name just a few.