Maharashtra and Haryana where assembly elections have been held after much high profile campaigning by BJP while low spirited by Congress could set the stage for more churning for the Congress if the party does poorly. With little to choose between staid old guard and ineffectual younger dynasts, Congress will look to the Maharashtra-Haryana elections for answers. Corruption remained, dynasty rule remained on the forefront with development holding the lime light. The old guard that took control of Congress in Haryana and failed to emerge out of their pocket boroughs in Maharashtra to support junior candidates and give the campaign some heft – amid the high decibel national security-centred electioneering by BJP. Congress’s dynasties and dynasts will also come under the scanner. The dynasts who have inherited constituencies from parents include some of Congress’s most fancied leaders today, most of them coming into the limelight in the past 15 years. In Haryana, the likes of Deepender Hooda, Kuldeep Bishnoi, Kiran Choudhary and even Kumari Shelja and Randeep Surjewala can boast of parents who were noted Congress leaders. In Maharashtra, this would apply to Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat, Praniti Shinde, Amit and Dheeraj Deshmukh – virtually the entire constellation at the top rung in the state. The talk of generational change that had abated with Rahul Gandhi’s unceremonious exit may again gain currency. However, a younger set of dynasts taking over from the old guard appears to have run its course in Indian politics with the Modi-Shah duo’s searing critique of inherited privilege. Congress may want to evaluate whether such paratrooping by dynasts to state assemblies and Parliament without going through the grind has led to exodus of talent from the party. Given that a dynasty is also the high command of the party, there is little likelihood of Congress being able to dispel public perceptions about its feudal, elitist and dynastic character even when it undertakes generational change. Continuing with politics, as usual, isn’t an option for Congress. But the party doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to reinvent itself.
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