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Why go after me? Rahul Gandhi says dynasts are a reality, BJP hits back

Rahul Gandhi took on accusations of Congress being a dynastic party, saying it was a problem in all political parties in India. He gave examples of SP’s Akhilesh Yadav, the BJP’s Anurag Thakur and DMK’s Stalin.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2017 22:48 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Smriti Irani,Berkeley
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi delivers a speech at the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, California, on Monday. (PTI)

“Most of the country runs like this. So, don’t go after me,” Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday, maintaining dynastic politics was common to all parties in India.

Gandhi is the fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family in politics. His father Rajiv Gandhi, grandmother Indira Gandhi and great-grandfather (Jawaharlal Nehru) all served as prime ministers.

“Akhilesh Yadav is a dynast, Mr Stalin (DMK supremo M Karunanidhi’s son) is a dynast, Mr (Prem Kumar) Dhumal’s son (Anurag Thakur of the BJP) is a dynast. Even Mr Abhishek Bachchan is a dynast, also Mr Ambani,” Gandhi said.

He was responding to a query that there was a perception that the Congress was associated with dynastic politics. The question-answer session followed a speech he delivered at the University of California, Berkeley on India at 70: Reflections on the Path Forward.

“That’s what happens in India and just the way India runs. The real question is if that person is a capable, sensitive person,” the 47-year-old leader said.

Within hours, the Bharatiya Janata Party hit back and called Gandhi a “failed dynast”.

“A failed dynast today chose to speak about his failed political journey in the US... the country (India) is not listening so he is speaking somewhere else,” Union information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani said at a press conference in New Delhi.

“The fact that Rahul Gandhi chose to belittle the prime minister is not a surprise but expected... It is an indication of his failed strategy. The people of the country where he leads a political party no longer support him so he is expressing his pain abroad.”

Irani, who had lost to Gandhi in Amethi in the last Lok Sabha poll and is seen as the BJP’s nominee in the next election as well, described the US college as a “platform of convenience” for the Congress leader.

The BJP has often pointed to the “Gandhi dynasty” to project itself as a party based on merit. Speaking at BJP event in July, party chief Amit Shah said, “Everyone knows who is going to be the next Congress president after Sonia Gandhi… Isn’t it? Tell me, who?” He then went to say that no one knew who would succeed him.

In his speech, Rahul Gandhi said he tried to change things in the Congress and there were a large number of people who were not from dynastic families.

“There are also people who have a father, a grandmother or a great grandfather in politics. Not much I could about this,” he said.

After he was named the Congress vice-president in January 2013, Gandhi vowed to end the heirloom politics but he has his task cut out.

Political parties, including the Congress and the BJP, are often criticised for promoting families in distribution of tickets during elections.

Leaders from both the parties have defended the move, saying though the family name helps carve an identity in politics but its sustainability hinges on the person’s performance.

Commenting on dynastic politics, Congress president Sonia Gandhi once said, “Just like in a family of doctors, professors, businessmen, one or another will choose the path of the father. There is a difference in politics, as you are elected and defeated democratically.”

(with PTI inputs)

First Published: Sep 12, 2017 13:27 IST