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Dynasty good in Delhi, bad in Andhra Pradesh

There is no gain saying the fact that Congress general secretary and Congress supremo Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s son Mr. Rahul Gandhi is, like Prince Charles of UK to the British throne, the heir apparent to the Congress throne whenever he wishes or Mrs. Gandhi ordaines.

India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru never propped up a dynastic succession. When the question arose and books “Who after Nehru?” were written, his daughter Mrs. Indira Gandhi was never on the top and the only person in sight.

How and under what circumstances was his only daughter Mrs. Indira Gandhi made the prime minister to succeed late Lal Bahadur Shastri on his sudden death is now a history. But once she was in the saddle, she did want a dynastic succession after her. First, she projected and groomed her younger son Sanjay Gandhi who had political bent of mind. But after his unfortunate death in an air accident, Mrs. Indira Gandhi lost no time in making her elder son Mr. Rajiv Gandhi to step in. She had left none in doubt as to who would succeed her.

Following her unfortunate assassination, the then President Giani Zail Singh manipulated to fulfill her last wish and made Mr. Rajiv take over as Prime Minister ignoring the precedent of swearing-in the senior most minister as the acting Prime Minister till formal election and oath, as was done after the death of Pandit Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Now after Mr. Rajiv’s death and, for some reason or the other, not becoming prime minister herself, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is following in the footsteps of her mother-in-law to ensure a dynastic succession and trying to groom and project Rahul the next prime minister. We have heard a chorus of such demands from both the elders like Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and youngsters too.

When Mr. Y. S. Rajshekhar Reddy died in a helicopter crash in September 2009, as per the practice, the senior most Cabinet Minister in his cabinet, Mr. K. Rosaiah, was sworn in as the chief minister. It then looked as a stop-gap arrangement. Mr. Rosaiah himself seemed to be not sure of continuing and that is why for about two months he functioned from his old office and did not shift to the office of the chief minister.

Immediately, about 150 Congress MLAs and most of the MPs went public demanding that late YSR’s son Mr. Jagan Reddy, MP should be anointed as the new chief minister. But some political considerations, best known to the Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi came into play. He was advised to wait.

What happened in between that Mr. Jagan had to quit Congress, resign his Lok Sabha seat and so had his mother from her Andhra Vidhan Sabha seat, is an internal matter of the Congress. Yet, two questions do surface.

One, what matters in the Congress – the will of the majority of MLAs or the whim of the central leadership? If it were the will of the majority, none could have prevented Mr. Jagan from occupying the position of the chief minister.

Two, if the grandson of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and the son of late Mr. Rajiv and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Rahul Gandhi is the most eligible person to don the gaddi of the prime minister, in what manner is Mr. Jagan not fit for the job? There are many similarities between the case of Rajiv Gandhi and Jagan Reddy. Both are sons of their mother/father killed while in office. Both are the first time MPs. Both had the least experience of administration. If just in four years of grooming and political internship Mr. Rajiv Gandhi could be prime minister, how could Jagan not?

In what manner is Mr. Jagan less eligible to be the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh than was Mr. Rahul Gandhi to be the prime minister?

Politics remains an intricate, mysterious game. Dynasty in Delhi is good; in Andhra Pradesh bad.

Amba Charan Vashishth is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.

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