THE HATCHING is done and the eggs are here for all to see on Thursday. Indian democracy, facing serious odds in the form of dynastic ambitions, may still breathe easy for a day at least, when the results of the Lok Sabha polls are out. Irrespective of the outcome, fact remains that Narendra Modi has in a solo show emerged as a towering figure amid a set of pygmies, and there’s a strong likelihood of him calling the shots for one more term. Exit polls are unanimous about this. This unanimity is what gives these polls a certain amount of credibility.
From Mamata Banerjee to Abhishek Banerjee
India may, after all, have an escape from dynasties baying for people’s blood. Notice the fact that just around this time too, new dynasties were springing up. Mamata Banerjee is shaping her nephew to take over from her. She has fielded Abhishek Banerjee in the Diamond Harbour constituency to reach his to Parliament for now, and shift base back to Kolkata in the event of new opportunities cropping up for her in Delhi. The nephew is already the second-in-command in the Trinamool Congress. Mamata’s hopes of becoming the next PM, a prospect she prominently raised to rally the Bengali populace around her, have receded to the background after the exit poll results were out.
Her past should be a pointer to the future. Notably, her stewardship of the railway ministry under Manmohan Singh was a fresh disaster for the ailing rail network. With a weak PM sitting back and blinking, she deserted her ministry and Delhi altogether for most part of her ministership. She made trips by air to Kolkata every weekend to build her party and grab power there. Perceptions strengthened that she neither had the vision nor the interest to build strengths to the railways. In the railways sector, thus, India was pushed back a long distance, set against its aspirations for growth.
Winning assembly polls and reaching Kolkata as CM, she still kept injecting negativism to the railways’ growth through the new TMC nominee in cabinet who took over the massive national enterprise from her in Delhi. Manmohan Singh cowered under pressure from CM Banerjee, when she stonewalled a move to raise railway fares. She won the support of India’s pampered poor, who travelled on the system for cheap rates, even as she sounded the death-knell for the Railways.
For the Bhadraloks in Bengal, progress of the state was secondary as long as their individual interests were served. From the disaster of a three-plus decade CPIM complacence, West Bengal was handed down on a platter to a disruptor in the form of Mamata Banerjee. Together, these politicos have turned West Bengal, once the centre and pride of India, into one of the poorest states. Banerjee’s hopes to extend her kind of street-smartness across the length and breadth of India now seem to suffer a well-deserved jolt.
Kamal Nath Bent on Creating a Dynasty for his Family in Politics
Turn to Kamal Nath, the richest politician-cum-chief minister, who made his wealth through clever moves in the past three decades – when, mostly, those Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh held the reins of power; and Congressmen and UPA partners had a roaring time building sky-high their personal empires. Businesses grow phenomenally when huge money earned from politics is pumped in. That forms the buffer between profit and loss. When one has an abundance of wealth, he can buy more power too. That is the India of today.
The “percentage” man became the CM by outwitting someone with a clean image in the Congress – the young and dashing Jyotiraditya Scindia. The likes of him would have made a difference to politics. But, the strength of Kamal Nath is also the smart way he is running a government with the help of two solitary MLAs, one each from the BSP and the SP, in a house where the Congress has only 114 members against the 116 required for majority. BJP with 109 MLAs is sulking in the sidelines after being in power for repeated terms.
Kamal Nath has a recorded wealth of Rs 130crore, dwarfed only by the wealth of others in the family, including the son Nakul contesting the polls from Chhindwara, in whose name is recorded wealth of Rs 650crore. Kamal Nath not only built a business empire for his family in central India but is also bent on creating a dynasty out of his family in politics.
The Rise and Rise of Dynasty Politics in India
To the long line of the Nehrus, the Abdullahs, the Mehboobas, the Pawars, the Thackerays, the Chandrashekar Raos, the Chandrababu Naidus, the Badals, the Deve Gowdas, the Karunanidhis, the Mulayams and the Lalu Prasads, two more dynasties have been added – in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. All these families, by virtue of their political enterprises and effective subversion of the true democratic processes in their respective territories, are wallowing in wealth. The concept of dynasties rebels against the high standards of democracy. Hence the theory of subversion of the democratic processes.
The Raj before the British Raj in India is resurfacing in new forms. Gone are the Maharajas who, in the minimum, had a love for their land; today’s new-age Maharajas are engaging themselves in virtual loot – of the nation’s wealth and of even its precious mineral wealth; as was noticed in the Coal Scam of the Manmohan Singh days when dubious elements close to the seats of power appropriated large parts of India’s huge mineral wealth simply for a song. Did the investigations thereof reach anywhere under five years of the Modi government? What Modi did in the past five years, frankly, was too little compared to what the nation stood up for. Overall, it was just a touch-and-go experience, evident also in the Balakot IAF strike.
Modi didn’t shake the system; he rather carried forward with the flab. The two UPA governments had made a mess of this vast nation even as the wealth of the rich grew manifold across cities; something which wrongly helped project a feel-good image. The Indian media played along, until a CAG came up with findings that stunned the nation, ending up in a change of government, to that of the BJP-led Modi government. Modi didn’t move a finger on many fronts where fire-fighting was of urgent need. Yet, luck is in his favour, thanks of course to Mamata Banerjee, of all the leaders! She kept the Opposition divided. Divided they stood, united they might fall.