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The first family of Indian National Congress
First of all my assessment about first family of the Indian National Congress. They are intelligent, clever, very fair, good-looking, fluent in Hindi and English and talented people. If one does not consider them as non-Hindus then they are Brahmins. Except for one rigging by Indira Gandhi, way back in mid-seventies they have mostly won elections without any rigging, fraud or malpractice.

Also, in modern times they personally have not been corrupt to that high level that they be overtly criticised. Only exception to this rule was Rajiv Gandhi in late 80s over his involvement in Bofors scandal.

I will mostly talk about Nehru and then about the present family skipping Indira and Rajiv to great extent. I will not talk about Sanjay Gandhi.

First of all let me list the main objections against the biggest among them, Nehru. That he flirted with Edwina Mountbatten, acted many times on whims, his Kashmir and China policies were incorrect and that he misjudged over the nuclear issue. I will reply each one point by point.

True, in public space Nehru flirted with Edwina and they may have had above plutonic relationship. For the Westerners this could have been a very secure way of promoting elitism in India and also to maintain non-economic inflation here. But to say that Nehru sacrificed Lahore for the sake of one kiss to Edwina is totally incorrect. No matter how strong the idea of union among book followers was the fact is that British favored India over Pakistan and Hindus over Muslims.

Still, they had to consider the viability of Pakistan. While by official census Lahore might have been a non-Muslim majority city then, the fact is that British would not have given it to India anyway. Now affair between Nehru and Edwina could be a celluloid show - just for watching purpose. But if I understand people then I can say with significant confidence that may be Nehru had infatuation with Edwina but not the other way round. This does not make Nehru as any bigger guilty than what he was.

I have written so many times about Kashmir that I have nothing new to add. I support Nehru policy over Kashmir. Now loosing out to China in 1962 war was a great humiliation for India and its defense establishment. Nehru might have erred a bit but the fact is that Chinese would not have accepted Indian and British positions on borders and would have taken a military route to resolve it, sooner but rather than later. Nehru's argument that Chinese kept only wasteland in Eastern Jammu and Kashmir while they returned Arunachal Pradesh after the 1962 war was a bit irresponsible.

First of all China would not have done so voluntarily and second thing by returning Arunachal Pradesh it created more problems for India over long-run than that solved it. Therefore, Nehru's policy on China was a bit flawed but one needs to understand the powerful lobbying by international donor institutions, like, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to pressurise India at those times on its matters. India did not have a vocal nationalist middle class then as it has now. Nehru was not as independent as many in India believe so.

The fact is that Nehru's policy on attaining nuclear criticality had backfired and ultimately India had to opt for having overt nuclear capability. Universal non-proliferation as the perpetual goal of nuclear non-proliferation treaty was not a practical idea then. India should have seen its interests first. But unfortunately, as is officially stated, India stuck to ideology. I do not know whether it was possible for India to have nuclear weapons before 1 January, 1967 deadline with or without facing severe consequences. But sure, if it was feasible then Nehru’s outline was incorrect. He died in 1964.

Now as far as imposing emergency is concerned I think it had to do a lot with possible Soviet help in India's first nuclear tests conducted in 1974. The US and the Soviet Union might have wanted to segment in India lessening their hostility somewhat. After all India was the leader of the non-aligned movement. Now for Soviets democracy and freedom was anathema.

Therefore, they would have been happy if Indira had imposed emergency once. For the US the idea of imposing emergency was a sure shot route towards the emergence of meaningful opposition in India. However, Americans must be knowing that Gandhis would revive back, but weaker, scared and contained. And that is what happened in real time.

Now Rajiv was overall a good and a decent person but what happened with Sikhs during his tenure was most unfortunate. Up to Rajiv the fact is that domination by Nehru-Gandhi family had helped India overcome many centrifugal movements challenging Union's authority and after him no Gandhi has been able to make it to 7 Race Course.

Now let's come to the present. Is dynasty rule wrong? Sure, but then except for the BJP, the Left and bachelors almost every political elite tries to bring his and her progenies to political stage, if they are able ones. Prominent examples include Abdullah family of Jammu and Kashmir, Yadav families of UP and Bihar, Badal family of Punjab, Pawar family of Maharashtra, Patnaik family of Orissa, Karunanidhi family of Tamilnadu and list can be extended to great length. There are many in the INC itself.

But then except for the Indian National Congress (INC) others are regional parties and they play lesser important roles in national politics. The INC has been to power for the longest time and ruled independent India at Center for all except 10 years. But as I have mentioned in the beginning modern Gandhis are not involved in any corrupt electoral practice and they win because of the legitimate public support as is true of any BJP leader. They are also the brightest minds among the INC leadership and it is they who help regional leaders in the party, not the other way round.

Now being the most eligible among the leaders of India's biggest party should they not try their luck at ballot boxes? The answer is simple yes. How can one ask the brightest in India's biggest political party not to contest elections? Moreover, all of them are the best minds in their party by their own. But then again a very pertinent question: is dynasty rule bad for India in post-conscious, post-modern world?

The answer is in theory it is and in practice it depends on the conduct of the first family of the INC. The other political dynasties can continue as they are doing today, only thing is that it is for the INC to consider dynastic rule's consequences in national interests.

The fact is that Rahul is very authoritative, arrogant and bossy person and never polite except during the roadshows. Sure, person of his position has to be so. But Rahul needs to understand that power without responsibility and accountability could be self-defeating: others will follow the example and the West would become predatory. Therefore, the best thing for Rahul would be to accept a position as a lawmaker even if it means doing that of the leader of opposition in the Lower House of the Parliament post-elections.

As far as Priyanka is concerned she would also turn out to be a good politician, may be better than her brother. Person like me cannot object to she taking the center-stage even if I appear supporting the BJP. But she would have lost to Narendra Modi in Varanasi, had she contested. It was just a cerebral exercise by the top leadership of the INC and she should forget that as of now.

In this context it should be noted that both Rae Bareli and Amethi are rural constituencies and therefore, safer than the much complicated urban constituencies. Priyanka should also look for a friendly rural constituency in her best interest, should she decide to have an explicit political career.

Now both Rahul and Priyanka need to understand that they have to be very clever in taking their positions about their identities. They need to strike a balance between Hindi and Brahmin identities on one hand and more secular and cosmopolitan ones on the other. If they do not accept themselves as Hindi and Brahmin they will loose out their support base inside UP and if they do emphasize it a lot then they may loose support outside the Hindi heartland. They need to be careful about their security too as their father Rajiv tried it hard to insist on his Hindi Brahmin identity during 1989 elections, he lost it and also his life during 1991 elections.

The better thing for the family would be to rationalize their position within the party and promote more national leaders in the party. They should promote democracy in the party and should look for high positions in the party and government only after a relatively long public life.

As far as I am concerned I do not oppose any individual and party though I slightly support the BJP and Modi.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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