Rahul Gandhi's UC Berkeley speech: Dynast, who me?
The news is about the BJP. It seems, in hindsight, that the Congress' retorts have, after all, had an impact.
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"Mr Akhilesh Yadav is a dynast. (MK) Stalin is a dynast. Mr (Prem Kumar) Dhumal's son is a dynast. Even Abhishek Bachchan is a dynast. I mean, that's how India runs."
That was a candid Rahul Gandhi, while defending himself in front of an audience in the US, trying to charm them with a sheepish grin. He had just finished reading from a prepared speech and this conversation was a part of an interactive session that followed.
For a long time, the Congress, whenever cornered by the BJP on its dynastic politics, would respond as if the BJP was accusing it of benefiting from some unfair advantage. The Congress would, typically, retort by suggesting that you, the BJP, are plain envious. You don't have a legacy to be proud of because your ancestors played no role in the freedom movement. The Congress couldn't, or probably didn't, want to admit to the prevalent voluntary slavery in their party, much less understand the meritocracy argument.
The blushing grin on Rahul Gandhi's face, and his facile defence, in trying to hide behind much lower-down-the-rung dynasts, suggests that he is no more able to duck the meritocracy argument. The minions, that is the Congress, may take a little longer to summon the courage it takes, to betray any signs of familiarity with the word meritocracy. But, that isn't the news.
The news is about the BJP. It seems, in hindsight, that the Congress' retorts have, after all, had an impact. Looks like the BJP has been forced to seriously introspect. In a grudging acknowledgment of being envious of the Congress' varied repertoire of dynasties - from la famiglia at the very top, down to the lowest of wannabes - the BJP too embarked on a mission mode, to create some truly comparable dynasties of its own that it could be proud of.
To its credit, the party is nothing today if not a focused objective driven machine. And, lo and behold, there is a bumper harvest. There isn't a state, or a town, district, constituency or ward, where you do not have an entrenched, a looming or several fledgling dynasts. I am not going to give you any names here. (Friends, relax.) But, you don't even have to scratch the surface. You will find them there, everywhere, squatting, with entitlement writ large on their faces, staring at you.
Just as in several other areas of comparison, such as opulence and poaching, where the Congress has been left miles behind by the BJP, the latter is all set to topple the former in "dynastic politics" too. In fact, in this "endeavour", the BJP has introduced several patent-worthy improvisations.
Combining poaching with dynastic legacy brings about a very profitable improvisation called "poaching a dynasty". The difference is of scale. The strategy that sanctifies such a practice is called inorganic growth strategy. In business parlance, it is the "A" of M&A (mergers and acquisitions). It is helpful to use this lexicon because that is the true spirit in which the party and the statecraft are being practiced - businesslike.
No, the meritocracy argument is not being laid to rest all together. All the top jobs, at the apex, do not even have a whiff of dynastic "legacy". Not yet. There is a lot of ground to be covered before that. You can't build the upper stories without a strong foundation, you see.
Besides, that one is a crucial differentiator via-a-vis the Congress. As it is, there are very few left. You can't let go of this one too. It will be useful to keep it intact till the trajectory of a Congress-mukt Bharat attains irreversibility. And once that is achieved, even dynasty may not look all that attractive a model.
The problem is we already have too many dynasties mushrooming. There are several more interesting models floating around. Incidentally, the flavour of the month is a Dera.