There was a time when there were leaders from Tamilnadu who occupied important positions in the Central leadership of their respective parties. In the Congress Party there were leaders like Kamaraj, C.Subramaniam, R.Venkataraman who were respected and admired by central leadership of the Congress party. Some of them were talked of as potential Prime Ministers. The founder and leader of the Swatantra Party, which was at one time the largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha, viz Rajaji is from Tamilnadu. Mr.P.Ramamurthy of CPI(M) was one of the top leaders of that Party. Recently though some leaders from Tamilnadu occupied important positions in the Central cabinet like P.Chidambaram, Anbumani Ramadoss, Dayanidhi Maran, T.R.Balu etc, none of them had the stature to influence decisions of the central government. In the existing circumstances, i.e. when All India parties- BJP and Congress- do not have much following in Tamilnadu, the local(Tamilnadu) leaders of these parties are unlikely to emerge as top leaders of their respective parties in the normal course.
There is need for an alternative to Congress and BJP. It could be an united Front of all existing and new regional/state parties or a new All India Party. Tamilnadu’s political leaders should try for this viz formation 9f United Front of regional parties or a new All India Party. They could have important positions in these orgnisations.
When late Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, of Congress Party gave important party positions to her son, opposition parties agitated against the attempt to bring in dynastic rule. At that time, Mrs. Gandhi asked why the country should lose the services of her talented son, merely because he was her son. She claimed that as an individual, her son had the right to do whatever he wanted to, whether to be in politics, business or agriculture. Since then, the states of Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Orissa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have seen relatives of politicians – sons, sons-in-law and wifes – occupying positions of dignitary in party or government.
The latest instance is that of Chief Minister Mr. Karunanidhi of Tamilnadu appointing his son Mr. Stalin as the Deputy Chief Minister. There does not appear to be any opposition to this in the party. The D.M.K party seems to have made it a policy to nominate the wife or son or daughter of deceased members of parliament (MP) or members of legislative assembly (MLA) for elections in the mid-term poll.
In India there are innumerable cases of MPs, MLAs, State and Central Ministers and political party leaders grooming their relatives to succeed them. These politicians use the following logic: the son of an industrialist succeeds his father as the Managing Director or Chairman of the company. Why should not a politician’s son become a politician, that too with the acceptance of the people?
Dynastic rule agitates against the spirit of democracy. Even during the days of the Kings, the people would not have had any objections to the Prince succeeding his father. In some countries, while people want a particular leader to continue to be in power, the constitution of the countries have prescribed a limit of two or three terms for the President/Prime Minister. This is with a view protect democracy and to prevent dictatorship. In this spirit, it may be worthwhile to debate whether some restrictions should be placed on the children and other relatives of political leaders entering politics in order to protect democracy. Of course, after a few years – 3 to 5 years – of retirement of the leaders from politics, their relatives could get their right to participate in politics.
In the initial years of India’s independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister, was also the Minister of External Affairs. Before independence, he was in charge of the foreign relations committee of the Congress Party. He had traveled widely and had personal friendship with several world leaders. He was considered to be an intellectual. Compared with his cabinet colleagues or opposition leaders, he was thought to be great. Perhaps in view of this, Parliament or the political leaders took for granted that the foreign policy of the government serves the best interests of the country in particular and the developing countries in general. Hence, the parliament members did not bother to discuss the foreign policy in details. This tradition has continued even after the Nehru era. This is not a healthy development.
There is a need for critical scrutiny of the foreign policy of India by the Parliament and political parties.