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.
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.