As the Shehzada of the Congress filed his nomination, the only one of course, to become the Shahensha of the party came the proclamation from a senior and versatile leader of the party, Mani Shankar Aiyar that "the Mughal Dynasty never elected the next ruler, but only passed on the mantle to the successor in the family".
But then dynasty runs in the blood of the party that has seen many ups and downs in the history. Its dynastic politics began with Motilal Nehru itself and he passed on the mantle to his son Jawaharlal Nehru in 1929 without any consultation and with the tacit approval of Mahatma Gandhi.
As Rahul Gandhi opined recently during his US visit, Jawahar Lal Nehru was well qualified to lead the party at the crucial juncture, the first time ever, as it was a period when the Congress was troubled with its approach towards the British Rule and was on the throes of seeking an Independence Declaration that was opposed by Mahatma Gandhi initially.
Nehru was one of the first leaders to demand that the Congress Party should resolve to make a complete and explicit break from all ties with the British Empire. His resolution for independence was approved at the Madras session of Congress in 1927 despite Gandhi's criticism. At that time he also formed Independence for India league, a pressure group within the Congress.
In 1928, Gandhi agreed to Nehru's demands and proposed a resolution that called for the British to grant dominion status to India within two years. If the British failed to meet the deadline, the Congress would call upon all Indians to fight for complete independence.
Nehru was one of the leaders who objected to the time given to the British – he pressed Gandhi to demand immediate actions from the British. Gandhi wilted to offer a further compromise by reducing the deadline given from two years to one. Nehru agreed to vote for the new resolution.
Demands for dominion status were rejected by the British in 1929. Nehru assumed the presidency of the Congress party during the Lahore session on 29 December 1929 and introduced a successful resolution calling for complete independence.
Nehru drafted the Indian declaration of independence, which stated: We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities of life, so that they may have full opportunities of growth.
We believe also that if any government deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them the people have a further right to alter it or abolish it. The British government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. We believe therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj or complete independence.
After the Lahore session of the Congress in 1929, Nehru gradually emerged as a key leader of the Indian independence movement. Although Gandhi did not officially designate Nehru his political heir until 1942, the country as early as the mid-1930s saw in Nehru the natural successor to Gandhi. Nehru was astute and capable enough to lead the people as Mahatma's knight in shining armour. Hence not many questioned the dynastic nature of his coming to power, perhaps.
Rahul just pales away in comparison. Here is where Mani Shankar Aiyar's assertion that Mughal era did not see elections but only succession sounds ironical. Though he claimed later that his words were quoted out of context and that he was only comparing the Mughal rule and the democratic process of elections in the Congress where anyone could contest against Rahul Gandhi, the damage was done by then. Why should anyone draw a comparison with the treacherous kingdoms and empires of the past?
This poor guy, Rahul, can do without such types in his party. After all, it was the same Aiyar who called Modi a 'Chaiwallah' before the last elections doing an immense favour to the BJP. These clownish personalities would do more harm to the image of Rahul and strengthen the hands of his rivals further. Still stranger is the turn to the controversy given by the Congress leadership which went ahead and defended his statement by blaming the Prime Minister Narendra Modi of poking his nose in Congress business.
By W Chandrakanth