In the genes
What does winnability mean in a political culture that privileges family?
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit suggests that we ought not to make a fuss if parties pick the sons and daughters of politicians and legislators to contest elections. For the party, what matters most is the "winnability" of a candidate, she has said. If the son of a politician can fight the good fight and get votes, why grudge him his genes? There is practical sense in Dikshit's statement. It also hides more than it reveals.
It does not acknowledge the degree to which politics and parties remain exclusive clubs, inaccessible to people without the right family background. Dynasties have struck root and proliferated across the country, from Punjab to Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh to Andhra Pradesh. Even the language of our politics is in thrall to pedigree, to the worship of "princelings" and "yuvrajs". But that is not so much a criticism of the children of politicians who enter the fray as it is a comment on the undemocratic ways in which parties are run.