All in the Family

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When Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) politician, Dayanidhi Maran, took oath as Cabinet minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance coalition government saying: "I, Dayanidhi Maran, do swear in the name of God that I will bear true faith and solemnly affirm allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, that I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge my duties as a Minister for the Union and that I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will," he may not have realised that this oath does not hold much significance in the unruly world of Indian realpolitik.


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Union IT and Communication Minister Dayanidhi Maran resigned under strange circumstances and for once it had nothing to do with his integrity as Minister for the Union. The administrative committee of DMK sought his removal from cabinet for violating discipline and bringing defame to the party. They did so because an opinion poll published in the daily, Dinakaran, owned by Dayanidhi’s brother, Kalanidhi Maran claimed that 70 per cent of the people favoured the Karunanidhi?s younger son, MK Stalin as his political heir while only two per cent support Azhagiri. Apparently, this was published against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi’s strong disapproval and triggered violent backlash by supporters of M K Azhagiri in which three people lost their lives.


Leaving aside the DMK?s internal issues pertaining to discipline, one important question still remains unanswered.  To whom does one have a greater obligation – the party or the country? As I understand it from this episode, the party or its leader ? who thrives on a culture of sycophancy of mythical magnitude – has a greater right on an Indian citizen than the country. Without indulging into the intricacies of Mr. Maran?s skills and abilities as a union minister, the nature of his shameful exit has been shambolic and purely undemocratic. The country should always have the first right on its citizen irrespective of their party allegiance. However, in a power hungry culture, which has become disturbingly obvious in recent years, it?s no wonder there aren?t many in administrative circles that are willing to rake up this issue. The Prime Minister can?t choose the man he wants in the office and the coalition government dare not question its partner for the fear of losing support. Such is the precarious situation of Indian democracy that we all are walking on a tight rope hoping for a miracle while granting the law makers free rein without accountability.


If this was not enough, the DMK chief nominates his daughter to Rajya Sabha, who until now was not active in politics and perhaps had no ambition either. For the record, this is not aimed at questioning her credentials to hold public office; but to draw our attention to the ease and carefree nature with which our leaders bring in and remove their kin from public office. Spare a thought for an able and aspiring Tamil politician, who could have been elected to the Rajya Sabha by Tamil Nadu?s Legislative Assembly. This episode seriously dents the hope of scores of average Indians -whose parents are not politicians- to get into active politics. These political parties promote their children?s interest before that of the country. This is true across the cross section of the all the political parties In India. If the serving MP or MLA dies then his wife or children or brother gets first priority to contest in the by-election. This simple and disturbingly straightforward method has been adopted by almost all political parties. 


Exasperation towards authorities often leads people to call strikes and even self immolate. Yet, we have settled to the notion that nothing can be changed when it comes to questioning the moral righteousness and ethical conduct of these political parties. Sadly, there is no solution to this problem other than raising this issue with respective parties to make them realise and acknowledge their violation of democratic principles.  Then again, this could be much easily achieved if we renounce our servile flattery of these political parties and its leaders.

Author: Vijay DSouza- UK


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