I must be excused for the temerity of a fair distortion of the name of People’s Democratic Party by referring to it as Parivar Dominated Party
By Gulzar Bhat
A couple of weeks ago I talked to a friend and the conversation meandered through politics to poetry for quite long. She said en passant that her nephew calls her Bhuvi in lieu of Bhuva . “Bhuvi is the distortion of Hindi word Bhuva but it sounds way captivating”. She explained succinctly in next few seconds before we ended our conversation. Soon my imagination run riot. Sometimes not only distorted words sound beautiful but even misnomers serve the purpose when appropriate ones fail to fit the bill.
Recently, on the first death anniversary of PDP founder and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Mohmmad Syed, Tassaqduq Mufti, his son formally joined the party. Mufti’s daughter Rubiya Syed, who hogged the headlines in early nineties after being kidnapped by militants, also made her first public appearance on a function convened to put out a special editon of Sheerazah by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. In the near future she may also follow suit like her siblings and play her own innings – long or short depending more on New Delhi’s political weather and goodwill the family creates than on public mood — on the rather rugged political turf of the state.
Uncles have already made their way into the party fold and pulled off some plum positions. Given the family hegemony — exactly like the Abdullahs — over the party, I must be excused for having the temerity to do a fair distortion with the name of People’s Democratic Party by referring to it as Parivar Dominated Party. This name in the current circumstances not only sounds more appropriate but also sits well.
But scratching the surface a bit deeper and we find that the picture in most of democratic societies is not rosy. In India we have an endless list of political dynasties ranging from Gandhis to Yadavs to Patnaiks, so on and so forth. Even a husband-wife duo, though both are rather unassuming, within a left party holds significantly important positions in the organizational structure which otherwise is against the very principles of the party. In the much pulsating UP elections slated for Febuary 11, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) reportedly has distributed tickets among the close family members of some of party leaders essaying to keep the power within certain families.
Similarly other South Asian states like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Srilanka and Nepal are in no way different. In Pakistan we have the Bhuttos , Choudris and Mazaris while Bangladesh has been ruled by Sheikh and Zia families. According to a report there are more than three dozen families active in the political arena of Srilanka.
Again, Nepali National Congress, now Nepali Congress is dominated by the Koirala family. Some Western democracies also failed to emancipate themselves from the shackles of political dynasties.
Recently held elections in the USA provide a glaring instance in this regard (let alone the Kennedys, Bushs etc.) as once the first lady of state fought against the Donald Trump as presidential candidate. It is believed that dynasty rule is more detrimental for the poor and developing nations of Asia and Africa than the developed democracies of the West.
The New Yorker magazines in one of its articles that appeared in 2015 wrote: “dynastic politics do much less damage in the US than in developing democracies. That is because the US has other institutions among them an independent and credible judiciary to check the abuse of power both during electoral campaigns and after them”.
Back home when Mufti Mohmmad Syed founded PDP in 1998 it was not seen as mere political alternative but people also viewed it as an organization that would do away with the tradition of rule by family. During the early years, more often than not, the issue of family rule by Abdullahs would echo in PDP’s statements and rallies. It was reproached the way it should have been. But just after almost two decades the party turned out another paragon of dynastic politics.
Prime Minister Narindra Modi in 2014 while addressing a poll rally in Kishtawar run both the PDP and NC down. He was forceful in exhorting upon the people to jettison these political dynasties but later tailored an alliance with one of them, you know which one!
In short the dynasty politics in our societies is so firmly entrenched that there hardly seems any end to it with the dynasts always holding way impregnable positions.
If the “name” of an outfit does not go well with the actual purpose it serves, an appropriate distortion or misnomer becomes inevitable. Anyways Bhuvi really sounds good!
—The writer is a fellow with NFI, New Delhi.