WSN-Op-Ed-Faultline India: Bloodlines As someone put it pithily in Punjab, the ruling Akali Dal top leadership can be described in a sweet family language: Daddy Ji, Beta Ji, Bahu Ji, Jawayee Ji, Beta Ji de Saala Sahib, Bhaneva (nephew) ji. Mummy Ji has been keeping herself very busy in inspiring everyone to do langar sewa, district by district style. If Parkash Singh Badal was being seen as indulging in blatantism when he made his son Sukhbir Singh Badal the Akali Dal president and then the Deputy Chief Minister, now he will be only someone who happened to think of the bright idea first. His good friend down South, K Karunanidhi, the CM of Tamil Nadu, has made his son M K Stalin the Deputy Chief Minister, and there is no doubt that Stalin will soon be taking over as the President of the DMK too. Karunanidhi has already prepared enough grounds by saying his health no more allows it. The clan is back in Indian politics, and with a vengeance. But hey! when did it even go away at all? Haven't we seen the Nehru-Gandhis condemned to rule India? Being a doctor or an engineer is not the same as being a politician. A doctor can send his son to a medicine school and then hand him over his practice, but politicians are supposed to emerge from among the people, not spring forth from the loins of established politicians. And prey! What's wrong with it? "If a doctor's son becomes a doctor, an engineer's son becomes an engineer, what is wrong with a politician's son becoming a politician?" When Parkash Singh Badal had asked this question, he thought he has scored a goal over anyone crying about democratic norms. But seriously, what's wrong with the sons and daughters and nephews rising in politics. Well, to start with: Every thing. Every damn thing, if it is still not clear to anyone. Family style of doing politics makes it family business. This business, the business of the policies of the, for the, by the people, becomes of the, by the, and yes, for the, Family. This is worse than feudalism. The blood that runs in the veins of the rulers then never mingles with the blood that runs in the veins if the ruled. The faultline becomes the bloodline. Now, this Family Drama was played out on the national scale, and in full view of the global and national community with Manmohan Singh taking 12 days to fix his cabinet, and a few more to distribute portfolios. For someone who wanted to tackle problems as big as the economic crisis in the first 100 days, spending 10 per cent of that time in cabinet formation was rather a luxury. But what concerns delayed it? Oh, nothing more than family concerns. Just put your finger on the list of ministers and you would have touched a raw nerve of Indian politics, or a bloodline. India has got its youngest minister in Agatha Sangma. Not many have forgotten how her father, P A Sangma, had parted company with Sonia Gandhi over her Italian origins. "Now, everything is forgotten," the young daughter beamed. A ministry often helps memories to fade. A new argument has been marshaled. “Kin can be given tickets, but it is the people who elect them.” That is truly wonderful, except that it is also the argument about all criminals in politics. After all, they come to Parliament only after the people elect them. M.K.Azhagiri is the son of M. Karunanidhi. His daughter also wanted to become a minister, and was in the race till the last minute. Dayanidhi Maran is also a close relative of M. Karunanidhi. (He is also the son of Murasoli Maran, a minister in A.B.Vajpayee’s government.) Oh yes, from Punjab, Preneet Kaur is also a minister now. Her prowess to deal with the External Affairs ministry is not very well known, but what is known is the fact that she is the wife of Amarinder Singh. Should we go faster? Okay, please keep ticking. From the Abdullah dynasty of Sheikh Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah is the Union Minister and his son Omar is now Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister. Farooq's son-in-law Sachin Pilot is also a Union Minister. So you have a son-in-law, father-in-law pair in the Indian ministry, a first. By the way, Sachin too has a bloodline entry into politics. He is the son of late Union Minister Rajesh Pilot. Prithviraj Chavan is from a well-known Maharashtra political family. Salman Khurshid’s father was a minister in Indira Gandhi’s government. Haryana's Selja Kumari is former Union Minister Choudhary Dalbir Singh's daughter. G.K.Vasan is the son of G.K.Moopanar. Delhi's Ajay Maken is the nephew of noted Delhi leader, the late Lalit Maken. Bharatsinh Solanki is the son of former External Affairs Minister Madhavsinh Solanki. D.Purandeshwari is N.T. Rama Rao’s daughter. Tushar Choudhary is the son of the former Gujarat Chief Minister Amarsinh Choudhary. Jyotiraditya Scindia is the son of Madhavrao Scindia. Jitin Prasada is the son of Jitendra Prasada.R.P.N.Singh is the son of former Union Minister C.P.N. Singh. Prateek Patil is the grandson of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil. D. Napoleon is the nephew of former state minister K.N. Nehru, who made him his personal assistant. Nothing is different in the states. You already know about the Badals family business in Punjab. In Orissa, the ruling dynasty man is Naveen Patnaik, Biju Patnaik’s son. In Andhra, Chandrababu Naidu is NTR’s son-in-law. The Janata Dal in Karnataka consists largely of H.D. Deve Gowda and his son. The BJP is no different. In Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje is the daughter of the Rajmata of Gwalior, her son Dushyant Singh is an MP. Manvendra Singh is the son former Union Minister Jaswant Singh. Jaswant Singh is now an MP from Darjeeling, with his new found love for the Gorkhas. When everyone is doing it, what is there to be ashamed of? So when the Badals were to fight the Bathinda elections, party president Sukhbir Singh Badal did not even bother what the announcement would mean to anyone bothered about democratic norms. “The Bathinda seat will be fought by someone from the Badal family,” the Akali Dal announced. In which other democracy have you heard of tickets being actually announced for a “Family” rather than an individual? Amarinder Singh ensured that his son Raninder gets the Congress ticket. Why stay behind in any race to murder democratic norms? But it all brings us back to the fig leaf of defence that the politicos have: if a doctor’s son, then why not a … And on top of it, a new argument has been marshaled. “Kin can be given tickets, but it is the people who elect them.” That is truly wonderful, except that it is also the argument about all criminals in politics. After all, they come to Parliament only after the people elect them. So, should we stop demanding that the political parties should not give tickets to criminals? After all, no criminal has ever entered Lok Sabha without being elected! Being a doctor or an engineer is not the same as being a politician. A doctor can send his son to a medicine school and then hand him over his practice, but politicians are supposed to emerge from among the people, not spring forth from the loins of established politicians. Children of politicians are dominating Indian politics now. As it is, the politics has become disconnected from the concerns of the people. With only a clutch of families getting to rule political parties and government, we will once again be back to the bad old days of the Maibaap Raja and begging-for-mercy Praja whose only option will be to vote for one dynast rather than the other. Ask the Bathinda voters. Badal bahu or Maharaja’s Raj Kumar? That is the problem with politics that runs along bloodlines.