POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Sep 24, 2009 AT 02:31 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 24, 2009 06:07 IST

R Jagannathan in the DNA:

No one, least of all Advani, can be in any doubt that the party needs new faces, younger leaders. But the intriguing question is this: why are democratic parties like his unable to handle succession with grace when dynasties, caste-based parties and Stalinist cabals are able to do it easily enough

...Why can't it [the BJP] simply solve its succession problems by holding an election instead of hoping to get a leader anointed from above?

It must be something in the Indian character. We are afraid of the outcome of democracy. We are afraid that if we make party elections a free-for-all, we may end up with someone unexpected. In short, we are more fearful of change than we need be. Which is why in our transition from feudal society to modern democracy, we have stopped for shelter with caste-based and dynastic parties. Barring the BJP and the Communists, all Indian parties are run by dynasties or caste-based aggregations, or both. There is almost no exception.

Why is this so? The answer lies in the nature of caste as an institution.

...centuries of caste-based protection has made Indians reluctant to change. They are afraid to abandon the old, even when it had outlived its utility. We change leaders only when there is no option, and even then we fret about it. We prefer feudal leadership to open democracy because the former gives us a sense of permanence while the latter brings us the threat of change. This is why the RSS, with its feudal and paternalistic culture, is easily able to replace old leaders without fuss, but its more democratic affiliate, the BJP, is not.

More here

While he is absolutely right in his characterisation of other parties, the question must be asked: Is the BJP really a democratic party? Or is the real problem that while definitely "more democratic" than the rest, it is only pseudo-democratic? For if it were truly democratic, it could simply have held elections. Is it not too convenient and a bit of a copout, though interesting, to invoke the caste-system in this case? For that should apply equally to the other caste-based and dynastic parties as well.  We could easily, for instance, explain all resistance to change by citing the Newton's first law, as well.  The real reason here, as elsewhere, could be simply this that a small coterie finds it convenient to let the status remain quo for some more time. Clearly, more democracy is the answer: if  the country as a whole can deal with change, so can the BJP. Or other parties, for that matter. All one needs is a system in place that ensures an election, rather than a mere selection, takes place. 

***

Witticism of the day: Ramesh Srivats on Twitter Goa leader likens Advani to rancid pickle. In other words, he is Bhrasht-achaar.

POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Sep 24, 2009 AT 02:31 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 24, 2009 06:07 IST
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Digression
3/D-67
Sep 25, 2009
05:31 PM
A minion like Manohar Parrikar has no right to comment on agreat politician like Advani.BJP without Advani would have been an also ran party in India.It is not just the age which should be the deciding factor,but one's mental and physical ability.Advaniji can lead the party for many more years.
S.S.Nagaraj
Bangalore, India
2/D-93
Sep 24, 2009
11:20 PM
>>We prefer feudal leadership to open democracy because the former gives us a sense of permanence while the latter brings us the threat of change.

I highly doubt this claim. How many wouldn't welcome a change of their spouse?

I lean towards the explanation that by relying on others, we absolve ourselves of individual responsibility. It allows us to tolerate even monstrous misfortunes with a certain elan because others are to blame. However, the Indian mind cannot tolerate even mild misfortune if it believes that misfortune is the result of our own thoughts, actions and decisions. Its a coping mechanism of emotional infants.
Augustus AAA
Pune, India
1/D-52
Sep 24, 2009
03:54 PM
" But the intriguing question is this: why are democratic parties like his unable to handle succession with grace when dynasties, caste-based parties and Stalinist cabals are able to do it easily enough"

BJP is not a democratic party.
JayKay Chraborty
Kolkatta, India
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