Monday, November 19, 2012

A Family Affair

Rahul Gandhi is the  general secretary of the Congress Party in India. Sonia Gandhi, his mother, is the party’s president. Rahul Gandhi’s late father was former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, himself the son of Indira Ghandi who was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India.

In the Congress Party, democracy is a dynastic affair. Nepotism still dominates the Congress Party.

Sachin Pilot, who will run the Corporate Affairs Ministry, is the son of Rajesh Pilot, a minister in the Congress government in the 1990s. Milind Deora, a junior minister of communications and information technology since 2011, is the son of Murli Deora, a minister for petroleum and natural gas until recently. Jyotiradtiya Scindia, who now holds the energy portfolio, is the son of Madhavrao Scindia one of the most powerful members of the Congress Party until his death in 2001. Scindia is heir to the Scindia dynasty, which once ruled a large swath of central India and although royal titles and privileges have been abolished, members of such families enjoy residual prestige and status. Two others supporting Rahul Gandhi are Jitendra Singh, from the royal family of Alwar in Rajasthan, and R.P.N. Singh, from the royal family of a small principality in Uttar Pradesh. Rahul's advisors are headed by Kanishka Singh, the son of S.K. Singh, a foreign secretary under Rajiv Gandhi.

In his book “India: A Portrait,” Patrick French observed that all members of the 15th Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament elected in 2009) under the age of 30, as well as more than two-thirds of the 66 members of Parliament under 40, had in effect inherited their seats. And 33 of the 38 youngest members got there “with the help of mummy or daddy.”

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