Feel Good About Dynasty

The whole country, not just the Congress party, is waiting for the big story and the real ˜good feel' of our times - the role of a new generation of Nehru-Gandhi in politics. Nobody really knows what the decision will be or when. But the impact is already being felt, if the public response of some senior BJP leaders is anything to go by. They seem to have very quickly lost confidence, not to speak of not feeling good anymore. The 250 crore Shining India campaign too has not given a shine to their lives. Only because two young people, with smiling faces that remind Indians of two great martyred leaders, have surfaced in the public. The BJP did not want Smt. Sonia Gandhi to run for the highest executive office and now they do not want her children to run either. The rules of the game must change to suit them. The goalpost must shift every time the ball gets into the D.

The emphasis that the BJP places on the issue is indicative of their arrogance mixed with desperation. India cannot accept this, they declare, not India must be persuaded to reject this, as most responsible democrats would have said. This is, after all, a matter of democratic choice. If people want Rajiv Gandhi's children to be in politics, just as they want to see Sunil Gavaskar's son in cricket or a film star's son or daughter in a blockbuster, how can anyone complain? It is not just these fields that throw up promising progeny; look at the judiciary, or the bureaucracy. Of course look also at other political parties. This is India Meri Jaan!

We are living in a young world in an old globe. A young population in an old country. The BJP, of course, is a young party with on old leader. But age and arithmetic seem to be the most important issues of this election. Congress can score on both. We already have a young leader who is working hard on the arithmetic. And we may well be able to introduce even younger leaders on the flanks. The Congress is offering a deal for long term comfort (like a Japanese car!) whilst the BJP is busy refilling an old model (like an American car!) that may have a little superficial shine but is fatigued and outdated. If the election is about, and for, and by over 65% of voters who are on the lesser side of 35, we are indeed lucky that we have thirty year old leaders who do not have to be introduced everywhere beyond their home states or Districts. It won't help to be envious of this attribute of Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Life is like that. You either have it or you don't. Remember some are born great ..!

On the serious side of the debate, if this country does not address the problems of our young we will be in deep trouble. There is a growing army of unemployed, even a larger number of unemployable young persons. The schools do not cater to all the school going children and the children who get to school drop out in large numbers. The quality of education varies from the best to the negligible. There is a growing spiral of crime and frustration levels have repeatedly broken barriers of civilized behaviour, with riots and mayhem in the streets and mohallas of the country. We may have won some battles against terrorism and may well be winning the remaining battles with the help of friends abroad. But terrorism, in some form or the other, will not let go completely. The soil will remain fertile for new forms of prickly cactus plants sprouting from fresh causes of agitation and distress. We are a non-violent nation trapped in a violent country.

People who have contributed to this dark side of India, knowingly or unknowingly, are hardly likely to find the way out. And there are many other dark alleys that are part of our political vocabulary “ the oppression suffered by dalits, the distress of the farmer, the neglect of tribal, the exploitation of women, the targeting of minorities, the curse of the poor and unempowered. Young, fresh minds, filled with idealism and trained to address complex problems are needed to change all this. Young hearts that have passion, young people who have dreams. A nation that cannot dream, does not become great, a leader who does not know pain cannot be true. It takes years of experience and rough journeys to be ready for the big battle. But at times history telescopes all that in a moment, in a flash, in a look, in an event. Priyanka and Rahul are a part of history already written and read with passion. They may have dreams of their own. But they are certainly a part of many people's dreams. There is no greater certificate of fitness for public life or high office.

Salman Khurshid