Coronation was the word that surfaced naturally in Indian and foreign minds as Sonia Gandhi stepped down after leading the Congress for nearly two decades and installed Rahul Gandhi as party president. The term suggested itself not because the royal pomp on display, but on account of the feudal mindset pervading even modern democracies. The Americans, more precisely the whites, are still obsessed with British royalty nearly two-and-a-half centuries after they broke away. They seek to make up for the lost royalty by finding kings and queens—even gods and goddesses—from the worlds of cinema, sports and business.
Much of India is feudal enough to quietly acquiesce in—if not actually rejoice over—dynastic succession in politics. The fiercest critic of the Congress’s dynastic politics is ironically the BJP, which reinforces feudal values in the name of Hindu nationalism. It has deplored the dynastic aspect as well as the lack of democratic process in the choice of the new Congress president. Both charges are well grounded, but, coming from the BJP, it’s like a pot calling the kettle black.