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India: The Political Dynasties

Categories: South Asia, India, Pakistan, Governance, Politics

Is democracy alive? That's one persistent question in the sub-continent's political gamble on hereditary. We had our kings, our queens and we stilling can't stop rooting for our neo-political emperors, and their families. A leader was slain in Pakistan, on December 27, 2007 and hours after her departure from her political and physical life, her son was chosen to be her heir. Sirensongs, from ‘Feringhee: The India Diaries [1]‘ questions.

“When is a democracy not a democracy? When its leaders are appointed by non-democratic methods, for one thing. When heredity is 9/10 of the law; and yes, the same formula applies to the Gandhi-Nehrus and Thackerays of India, and many others.”

Sirensongs quotes from the Indian Express, [2]Royalism has been democratised in South Asia. In turning our backs on monarchy, we reinvent ourselves as republicans. But this is often a fragile and tenuous republicanism, as the political parties in our democratic polities are mini-kingdoms each with its own royal family.” adding to this her personal observations.

At India View [3], S. Venikar is apathetic to the political situation in South Asia, yet sympathizes for the crown prince ‘Bilawal’ and his inheritance.

“If political leaders of the country start bequeathing their personal estates through their last will, there would be no questions asked, although any last will could be legally challenged by legitimate interests. If Kings and Queens in the 21st Century appoint their heirs to the throne that may be quite understandable.

There is really no custom or convention in the constitutional law or in the political parties for such a phenomenon. Nepotism during the lifetime of the political leaders is reluctantly accepted by their followers. Bilawal Bhutto, Rahul Gandhi and Pankaj Singh each may be viewed as the heir apparent for their respective party leadership positions in remote future.

Bilawal lofty statements regarding his faith in democracy and avenging his mother's assassination through democracy are normal expressions of a grieving and mourning teenager but alas he does not see how democracy is high jacked in his political party.”

In a previous article, De'mo-narchy Of India” [4], Venikar talks of how the real threat to Indian democracy is from the new breed of politicians who are taking advantage of the institution of democracy to create dynasties.

Patrick Pringle is frightened by the similarity between the predicament of Bhutto's son, Bilawal, and that of Gandhi's. He comments on this prolonging issue all the way from London on his blog Patrick's South Asia Diary [5].