Bishnu MohanBishnu Mohan, posted on on 1st Nov, 2017, 23 Views

Dynasty Governs a Democracy: Hereditary politics in India

Monarchy was abolished in India after its Independence as per the official records. But the truth is that even before the aristocrats were small puppet leaders at the hands of the Britishers when they ruled India. So technically, hereditary power placement happened after India was declared as a democratic nation.

Democracy means that the government is elected by the people and is irreplaceable if they fail to perform. Unfortunately, for the Indian political arena, the hereditary shift of position is a prominent feature.

Politics in India:

Before knowing about the hereditary politics, it would be better to first know about the basic outline of our political system. Since it's Independence, India is a democratic republic with a federal parliamentary system. Every political activity officially should take place within the framework of our constitution. On the other hand, our government itself has a double power system, one at the centre and another at the state level.

Answer ImageThey both have to conform to the guidelines of the constitution, to work smoothly in correlation with each other. The Indian polity system also consists of a bicameral provision. According to it, the states of the Indian rule are represented by the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and the citizens are represented by the Lok Sabha (Lower house). There is also provision for an Independent Judiciary commanded by the Supreme Court.

It strives to protect the constitution, fundamental rights of the citizens and maintain a friendly relationship between central and state governments. Every five years a new Government is formed through elections unless there are any unfavourable conditions. Parties form that successfully secure majority of seats in their respective lower houses- Lok Sabha in the centre and Vidhan Sabha in the states.

Political Parties in India:

There are two types- National Party and State/ Regional. It is compulsory for the political parties to bear a symbol representing them. It must be registered with the Election Commission of India. The symbol is crucial for identifying the different parties as there are currently over 200 of them in our country.

Answer ImageIt is done so that even an illiterate can recognise and vote for their favourite party. In short, you can say the symbol mark their presence. They try to make it as captivating as possible to draw more public attention. The national politics is, however, dominated by two parties. The Bharatiya Janata Party was also known as BJP and the Indian National Congress. The agendas of both these parties are very different.

The Congress is oriented more towards public welfare and is a centre-left party based on left-right political spectrum while BJP is more atoned towards economic development of the country and is a right-wing party. However, the thinking on the same aspect can vary from person to person when glanced through different public opinions.

It's Importance:

Although compared to other democratic nations India has a large number of political parties, but their principles remain the same. They represent people from different regions and sections of the society. Through electoral process, people chose their representatives for themselves and wish to be ruled under its leadership.

They help run the executive and legislative branch of the government. To form a government, a party must acquire a majority in the lower house. In case it doesn't, then a coalition is formed among parties. Ever since India held its first general election in 1951, the Indian National Congress has been dominating it till 1977, when a non-congress party was formed for the first time.

Times have certainly changed since then with our political arena being flooded with many powerful political parties and their leaders. But nepotism has only become a stronger part of Indian political system.

Influence of power:

The hunger for eminence and hegemony has laid to many prejudices, and real-time power plays which has led the government from being democratic to a dynastic matter. The main reason for it is that the parties are mainly centralised around an actively dominating leader. Although there would be many dextrous members in the party yet only one becomes the face and the performer of the group. That member is esteemed by the public and is given credit for the party's goodwill.

Answer ImageSo, when the time comes to descend from the position, naturally a person of his choice is taken into consideration. Here, nepotism comes in play. Other possible reasons could be the absence of a more organised party dynamics and presence of independent civil society associations. They help in changing the support for the parties and provide finances during elections. So, even in case of democracy, there is also someone in the background who plays the role of a kingmaker.

The rise of hereditary politics:

There are plenty of reasons for the presence of genetic hierarchy in the parties. India doesn't have a similar side. As the population is divided into sections based on religion, language, race, caste and region, so are the parties. Their particular tactic is to attract people who do not favour other parties.

Some parties specifically target focus on a particular section; for example, Biju Janata Dal's promotions for Odia Culture; Naga People's Front demands for the rights of Naga tribes; National Conference's support for the Kashmiri Muslim and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's championing for the Dravidian/ Tamil population.

So, when it comes to selecting the leader, considering their grand roles in forming the party's image, it is evident that the person must be someone relatable. He must represent that particular section they are focusing on acutely, and outsiders have preferably no chance at all. So when the opportunity comes to replace him, who better it would be that his kinship. The credibility of the party, trust of the people and most importantly the vote banks remain secure with this move.

Examples of Hereditary politics in India:

There can be a justified debate on the issue that dynastic incumbents can lead to economic inequality and work against the national interests. The politicians who represent the people and should work for the nation's progress must be chosen by their merits and abilities and not their bloodlines.But the feudal character of Indian society is deeply rooted in its politics too.

Answer ImageRecent reports show that 27 members of Parliament in Lok Sabha are relatives of other Political figures. Out of 545 MPs, two-thirds (under the age of 40), has a political family background. And astonishingly 100% of Indian MPs under the age of 30 are beneficiaries of nepotism.The political families are like royalty in a democratic nation, and they like to treat themselves like that too.

There are many examples of such cases with Nehru- Gandhi family being the Pioneer of dynastic politics in India. We also have Patnaiks and Sathpathys in Odisha; Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu; the Thackerays, the Pawars and Sales in Maharashtra, Abdullah in Jammu Kashmir and the list goes on. Although many current generation politicians share the same political ambitions and perspective as their parents did it's just carried on like a formal legacy.


The tendency of this archetypical politics in India has been going on for decades. It has turned into a family business which is adversely affecting the nation's progress. Some might blame it to politicians demagoguery but one of the many reasons for slow advancement of our country compared to its counterpart is hereditary politics.

The seat of power holds great responsibility, and in a democratic nation such as ours, it should be given to someone deserving, not someone in waiting. So, for the betterment of our country and to give a fair chance to eligible and adept politicians, such political declensions must be uprooted.

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