Look who’s talking of dynasty
Congress is accused of dynastic rule. What is dynasty? Dictionary says it is a sequence of rulers from the same family, stock or group. There have been dynasties all over the world. There still exist dynasties in several countries.
When I think of dynastic rules in India, history takes me back to the year 424 BC when we had Nanda dynasty that existed till around 321 BC. Then came Mauryan dynasty, Kanva dynasty, Satvahan dynasty, Chola dynasty, Kushana dynasty, Gupta dynasty and so on. We have also heard about Chalukya dynasty, Rajput, Parmar, Yadav and Solanki dynasties which were there in 8th century and ran till12-13th century. Mughal, Maratha and Travancore dynasties also played their roles from 11th to 19th century.
But Nehru dynasty? Let’s come to certain facts. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s grandfather Gangadhar Nehru was the Kotwal of Delhi and enjoyed a very short lifespan of only 34 years. He died after three years of 1857 rebellion against British rule. Jawaharlal Nehru’s father Motilal Nehru was his third son. The eldest son Bansidhar Nehru used to work in the judicial department and because of his postings at different places most of the time, he was practically cut off from the family. Second, one Nandlal Nehru was the Dewan of Khetri state of then Rajputana and now Rajsthan. Khetri’s most famous contribution is to give Vivekanand to the world. It was Maharaja of Khetri Ajit Singh who gave Narendra a new name Vivekanand and pursued him to attend Chicago religious conference in a new attire.
Congress party was born in 1885, 24 years after Motilal Nehru’s birth. Motilal actively participated in freedom movement and became the president of Congress party for the first time at Amritsar session in 1919. It was 34 years after Congress was formed and when Motilal’s age was 58. When he held this position again at Calcutta session in 1928, Motilal was 67. He died at the age of 70. So, Congress party had no Nehru as its president for initial 34 years.
Jawaharlal Nehru became the president of Congress party in 1929 at Lahore session for the first time for one year. After 6 years he again got this position at Lucknow session in 1936 and got another tenure at Faizapur session in 1937. That means, during 62 years of pre-independent India, only two members of Nehru family held the topmost position in Congress and that too for a total of six years. 45 leaders became the president of Congress party during this period and for 55 years non-Nehrus headed the party. J.B. Kraplani was heading Congress in 1947 when India got independence. In 67 years of independent India, Congress party was ruled for 34 years by persons who were not from Nehru clan. 16 persons have held the president’s chair and only four of them belonged to Nehru-Gandhi family. Nehru-Gandhis have occupied this position only for 39 years in 129 years of Congress’ history. There is no prime minister with Nehru-Gandhi surname in last 25 years in our country.
Now come to the legacy of other political parties. Bhartiya Janata Party was established in 1980.
Earlier it was Jan Sangh which was founded by Shyama Prasad Mukharjee on 21 October 1951. Jan Sangh merged itself with Janta Party in 1977 and incarnated as BJP after Janta Party broke away. BJP has had 10 presidents in last 34 years. Lal Krishna Adwani remained president for longest period of 13 years. Atal Behari Vajpayee held the position for 6 years and Rajnath Singh for 5 years.
During 26 years of Jan Sangh, there were 14 persons who took turns to occupy the highest seat in the organisation. Two of these 14 include Vajpayee and Advani. Vajpayee was Jan Sangh president for five years from 1968 to 1973 and Advani was the head for four years from 1973 to 1977. Thus, it was this duo who controlled Jan Sangh-BJP politics for 39 years from total 60 years of its existence--that is more than two-third of the time of this right wing organisation.
Left wing Communist Party-Marxist is no different. It took birth in 1964 and had only four Secretary Generals in last 50 years. Sunderaiyya occupied the seat for 14 years and so did Namboodaripad again for 14 years. Then came Harkishan Sungh Surjit who remained Secretary General for 13 years and the current head Prakash Karat is leading CPM for nine years. Another communist outfit CPI also shares 89 years of its history with similar pattern and bitter memories of the treatment its senior leaders such as B.T. Randive, Amrat Dange and Indrajit Gupta had to face.
Take the case of Dravidian parties. They have the roots in Periyar’s and Anna Durai politics which ultimately gave birth to DMK in 1969 and AIADMK in 1972. M. Karunanidhi has been heading DMK for 45 years since 1969. M.G. Ramchandran and remained AIADMK chief for 15 years till 1987. A succession war went on for two years from 1987 to 1989 and J. Jaylalitha became the president of AIADMK who is occupying the post for last 25 years. You may also look at the sons of soil who swear by Ram Manohar Lohia’s socialism every alternate day. Samjawadi Party was born two days after the birth day of Mahatma Gandhi in 1992 and Mulayam Singh Yadav is holding on to its president’s post from day one for last 22 years. Bahujan Samaj Party also follows the path. Kanshi Ram estalished BSP 30 years back in 1984. He remained the supremo till 1990 when he fell ill. Present supremo Mayawati practically ran a proxy rule for 13 years and took over after the death of Kanshi Ram in 2003. She is BSP president for 11 years, but in reality for 24 years.
Bala Saheb Thakre gave birth to Shiv Sena 48 years ago on 19 June 1966 and remained its chief for 38 years before appointing his son Udhhav Thakre the chief in 2004. Uddhav is running the show for last 10 years and now has complete control after the death of Bala Saheb in 2012. Navin Patnaik founded Biju janta Dal 17 years back in 1997. He remains its president since then. Sharad Pawar formed Nationalist Congress Party 15 years back in 1999 and does not want anybody else to enjoy the highest post. The topmost position in National Conference of Abdullahs also changes hands between father and son.
Do you still feel there is something like ‘Nehru-Gandhi dynasty’?
The author is editor and CEO of News Views India