On Monday Rahul Gandhi became Congress General Secretary and consequently a likely future candidate for Prime Minister. At 37 he is the same age as his Rajiv Gandhi was when Rajiv first started his political career. If Rahul succeeds in becoming Prime Minister, that would make him the fourth generation from his family to have held the top leadership post, something I believe would be a record for any democracy.
India’s obviously not the only country with a political dynasty. The United States has two examples where a father and son held the Presidency in over 200 years: John Adams (2) and John Quincy Adams (6); George H.W. Bush (41) and George W. Bush (43).
There are other dynasties in the American Congress or in various governors’ offices. Just off the top of my head I know there were two generations of Gores, two generations of Dodds, and three generations of Kennedys in Congress (although more than three Kennedys in those generations).
Outside the US, Pakistan has two generations of Bhuttos, Bangladesh had Rahman and Sheikh Hasina, and Indonesia has had Sukarno and Sukarnoputri. I’m sure there are others.
Still, we’re talking about 3 generations of Gandhis as PM in a mere 40 years, and the possibility of a fourth generation being raised within 60 years. It reflects quite poorly on the quality of India’s institutions. What does it say that Congress thinks Rahul will give it an advantage in the next elections, despite his poor political showing in UP where he got schooled by the BSP?
Does the Congress party have such poor politicians that the best repeatedly come from a single family? It’s clearly not genetic because the PM’s position had been offered to Sonia, who was a Nehru by blood, not birth.
It must be the name, but does the party have so little to offer that they have to ride on name recognition alone? If so, what will happen if Rahul’s cousin Varun runs for office? Could there be a Gandhi as PM under the BJP?
Lastly, why Rahul and not Priyanka? Rahul left Harvard, and may not have finished at Cambridge or kept his job as a management consultant at Monitor [Link]. Priyanka was the charismatic sibling, and the one everybody thought would enter politics. Does India only want Nehru women if there are no Nehru men to be had?
Somebody really should remind both Hollywood and the Congress party of the danger of sequels. Police Academy 4 anyone?.