From Mauritius to India – passing the baton – willingly or reluctantly

By Onkareshwar Pandey
New Delhi [India], Jan.24 (ANI): It is public knowledge that Mulayam Singh Yadav was very reluctant to leave the post of Samajwadi Party president, but eventually could not withstand the show of strength and support exhibited by his son and incumbent Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the long drama before the public notwithstanding.In contrast, however, is Mauritius, where Anerood Jugnauth, the Prime Minister, passed on the political baton peacefully and willingly to his son and the country's Finance Minister Pravind Jugnauth, citing the need for "a young leadership".
Pravind was appointed as the new premier of Mauritius, a nation of just 1.3 million people earlier this week.
And, this is not the first time, as politics in Mauritius, has seen a few families dominating top echelons in the corridors of power for decades since that nation achieved independence in 1968, almost similar to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, also seen as the custodian of Indian politics for nearly 50 years post independence.
Similar to India, the appointment of a prime minister takes place normally after elections and on the basis of which party has secured a majority vote. Prime ministers can also be appointed without calling for a fresh election, provided the party has majority support in the parliament.
The Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) of Anerood Jugnauth had a majority in the National Assembly, and therefore, Pravind Jugnauth, eased himself into the office of prime minister without political murmur.
More than thirteen years ago, in 2003, Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth had handed over leadership of his party, which he founded in 1983, to his son Pravind with a lot of emotion and tears in his eyes.
He said then, "I have reached the end of this road."
Though he stepped down as party president, he remained prime minister until September 2003 and then took over as the country's president.
He announced in late 2016 that he would step down as prime minister before his term expires in 2019. It went without saying that Pravind would succeed him.
Anerood Jugnauth is widely regarded as the pioneer behind Mauritius' economic revival in the 1980s, when through liberalisation, he reduced dependency on the sugar industry.
He served as the nation's prime minister on three occasions i.e. between 1982 and 1995, 2000 and 2003 and finally between December 2014 and January 2017.
Politically too Mauritius has developed, where the majority are people of Indian origin, but have no direct linkage to Indian politics.
However, the issue of dynastic politics is of course relevant in equal measure in both countries.
A casual look at the political spectrum in the India of today where elections for five state assemblies are round the corner, the issue of dynastic politics and the passing of the baton is being widely debated post the Mulayam-Akhilesh episode that hogged prime time on television channels for weeks, and saw both the BJP and the Congress being excessively critical and vocal.
The BJP has distributed party tickets to no less than 35 candidates who are kith and kin of party leaders, placing the party on the wrong foot because Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a strong opponent of dynastic politics and has repeatedly promised to put an end to family rule in Indian politics.
Prime Minister Modi will surely find it difficult to digest this fact when it is increasingly becoming apparent that dynastic politics is getting irrelevant day by day, and parties are using words and not so credible nomenclature to defend such moves.
"A dynasty in the absence of a king, the heir apparent takes over, while the BJP has given tickets to people who have to win in order to climb to the top," clarified Sambit Patra, BJP spokesperson after facing a strong criticism over ticket distribution and drew a distinction between dynasty politics and giving tickets to sons and daughters of party leaders recently.
The BJP spokesperson had tried to justify it by saying- "the party cannot deny a person a ticket just because he or she is the son or daughter of a politician".
With a clear motive in the mind to win the elections at any cost, political parties across the country are distributing party tickets to family members of their party leaders, and clearly proving that family rule is no longer the exclusive preserve of the Congress.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, one of the Prime Minister's closest aides, had once tried to make a point that "the struggle being witnessed in Indian politics was between merit and dynastic politics, and Modi is being targeted by dynastic forces because of his success".
But today he cannot deny the fact that his own party, the BJP, has also succumbed to the pressure of party leaders and is or has already distributed tickets less on the basis of merit and more on the basis of family link and allegiance.
And why should we only highlight or accuse our own politicians of perpetrating or promoting this malaise? India's immediate neighbours such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Pakistan are also deeply rooted in dynastic politics.
In Nepal, the first family are the Koiralas; in Bangladesh, politics is dominated by the kin of Begum Khalida Zia or Sheikh Hasina; in Myanmar, it is Aung San Suu Kyi's writ that runs; in Sri Lanka, it was the Bandarnaikes and the Rajapaksas till not too long ago that dominated the political landscape. In Pakistan, it has been the Bhuttos and the Sharifs.
Forefathers, grandparents, parents, in-laws, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, sons-in-law, uncles, aunts, cousins, sons, daughters and even grandchildren, there is no dearth of examples of politics being a family business.
In the West, outstanding examples are Bush, Gore and Clinton families, and before them, the Kennedys. In North Korea, it is the Kims for the past 49 years. From Asia to Africa too, there are any number of examples of political dynastic families.
Willingly or reluctantly, the passing of the political baton from father to son, generation to generation, it seems, is par for the course insofar as elections are concerned. (ANI)

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