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If one is to believe their rhetoric, Conservative Indian-Americans– who overwhelmingly support the BJP — hate Congress for its dynastic politics. While it makes for a good sound bite, especially for the uninitiated, there is no evidence that in fact this group has anything but respect for dynasties- whether in India or in the United States. Their invocation of the dangers of dynasty does not stem from the politics of liberation or affirmation; instead, it is done cynically with one party in the crosshairs- Congress and one beneficiary: Hindutva.

Now, the dislike sensible people have with dynasties is certainly justified, irrespective of political leanings. Democracy and dynastic rule are largely inconsistent- for obvious reasons. Fascism is also inconsistent with dynastic rule- people like Hitler hated the ruling classes of Germany. Leftists and Rightist despots alike have fulminated against dynasties for centuries.

But what makes one particular dynasty so terrible and others so completely acceptable in the minds of the Right? The case of well-heeled diasporic Indians makes for an interesting case in inconsistent, fatuous politics based on prejudice.

This phenomenon is not particularly complex or difficult to understand. It boils down to the following:

  1. They like dynasties that believe in and support our prejudices and not ones that don’t.

  2. They will invoke the ills of dynastic rule when it suits them and conveniently forget about it when it doesn’t.

It’s really that simple.

Indeed, since when have Caste Hindus (Overwhelming percentage of the Indian diaspora in the United States) not in fact been in favor of dynasty? Which of the great Hindu kingdoms had democratic politics and succession based on democracy? The “heroes” of the glorified Hindu past- were they not scions or builders of dynasties? The Cholas, Guptas, Mauryas or the Bhonsles, Scindias, Gaekwads, and Holkars – were these not dynasties?

Where was the militancy of these “woke” conservatives against the dynastic rule of Congress when in fact the main alternative- the Left –sought to create a new paradigm of politics in India? When did they support Leftist parties, Trade Unions, Kisan Sabhas, and other formations that fought tooth and nail against the dynastic politics of the Congress Party? Or did their ardor only rise when the alternative was Hindutva parties with neo-fascist agendas?

In their country of adoption, where was their stridency when The Bush family sat on the throne of the world for 12 years or when the scion of a rich real estate family took the White House in 2016.

So why now, suddenly, is dynasty such a pernicious concept in their perception? What force of nature turned their generally conservative politics into one’s of liberation from dynastic tyranny?

Well, in fact, they’ve not had some great political awakening. Quite the opposite. In fact, what rightwing Indians really want in India is a dynasty which aligns to their neoliberal, anti-Muslim, and elitist agenda. As they support the systematic destruction of India’s democratic institutions, they appear to want a permanent BJP-Raj.

No doubt, democracy was ill-served and atrophied under Congress post-Nehru. As the hegemonic party, Congress had the opportunity to use its enormous power and prestige to truly serve the citizens of India; it ended up serving only particular sections of society as the rest of the country rotted. Of that, there is no doubt. So for most of Independent India’s life, rallying against the power of Congress could be seen as the duty of real democrats of anyone who truly believed in “sewa” for the people of India. Would these people, however, have wished for a party that openly spews hatred, displays extraordinary callousness for the plight of farmers, and celebrates murder on the streets? Would these people, true democrats, have wanted a party that panders to Billionaires and wantonly neglects the poor, has zero commitment to environmental sustainability, and abandoned a fair and balanced foreign policy for the support of fascists and despots? Would anyone concerned- really concerned that is- with the welfare of the average Indian support a party that has systematically destroys the very institutions that made the country resilient and democratic?

I think not.

Dynastic politics are pernicious; fascist politics worse. Indians have a choice- a duty in fact—to avoid both before it is too late. The cure can be worse than the disease.

Romi Mahajan in an Author, Marketer, Investor, and Activist


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