Dynasties be damned
Sonia Gandhi’s statement that Rahul Gandhi’s decision to stand for election from Amethi does not mark the continuation of ‘dynasty raj’ in the Congress is welcome.
Young Mr Gandhi is a citizen of India and has every right to stand for Parliament. But it would be quite wrong to anoint him heir apparent or the party’s next leader, and his mother has done the right thing by scotching such speculations.
There is, nevertheless, the problem of issues. Increasingly, it is beginning to seem as though this election campaign is a contest between the forces of communalism, casteism and dynasty. Democracy, liberalism, performance and ideology all seem to have been reduced to mere slogans in this battle. Instead, the BJP has tried to persuade the NDA to include the temple issue in its agenda. The battle for the electorally crucial state of Uttar Pradesh will be decided on the basis of caste. And increasingly, Indian politics is beginning to seem like a family business in which chief ministers and cabinet ministers field their sons or their wives.
None of this can be good for India. The world’s largest democracy is now poised to take its place as one of the leaders in the community of nations. It can only rightfully occupy that position if it embodies a progressive society based on fairness, merit and social justice. To go back to feudalism, to religious conflict and to caste identities is to go backwards in time and to deny the giant strides that India has made in the last few decades.