Mani Shankar Aiyar’s bizarre ‘Aurangzeb’ statement: In favour of or against dynasty?

Rahul Gandhi on Monday filed the nomination papers in order to put in a bid to become the next Congress President thereby potentially taking over from his mother, Sonia Gandhi. Such a nomination resulted various people questioning the domination of dynasty politics in the party at the possible expense of merit based succession. An ABP news reporter thereby decided to pose this question to party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar who in the past has exhibited his sycophantic traits towards the “dynasty”.

Aiyyar gave a rather odd statement, and to make matters worse, a clip with only a part of the statement has become viral on social media. First, see the full question and answer to which Aiyyar was responding:

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A transcript of the question and answer:

Ques: But it is being said that this a form of dynastic politics, not legacy but dynasty, and Shehzad Poonwala has claimed that this not an election but a selection, how would you respond to this?

Ans: Firstly, when Shah Jahan took the place of Jahangir, did any election take place? When Aurangzeb took the place of Shah Jahan, did any election take place? No. It was known from the very beginning, that whoever is the child of the king, and would become the king, unless they fought amongst each other. BUT, in a democracy, elections take place. And I invite Shehzad Poonwala, that if he wants to stand for elections here, then let him please come, apply for the post, and have you heard of this name Shehzad Poonawala before?

The question is two-fold: What is Aiyyar’s response to the claim of dynastic politics and what is the his response to Poonawala’s claims. Aiyyar seems to be trying to show the difference between how a dynasty works, versus how a democracy works, in order to answer the first question. By bringing this contrast, he tries to prove that since elections are being held in the Congress party, you cannot call it a dynasty. Secondly, Aiyyar calls upon Poonawala to put his money where his mouth is, and contest the elections.

Aiyyar could have made the same point in a more clear and articulate manner. He could have used a few more words to clarify that he was showing how a dynasty (the Mughal dynasty) functioned, and how it is different from the Congress party’s procedures: i.e. Mughals did not have an election, whereas Congress has elections.

This defense in itself may be weak since everyone knows these elections are a farce and questions are being asked as to on what basis or what achievements was Rahul Gandhi considered to be worthy of being even a candidate in such a process. But however weak the defence maybe, Aiyyar’s half-statement has got a life of its own and has become the butt of jokes now:

He also mocked the usage of the term Badshah and called the Congress party rule as an Aurangzeb raj.

Like Modi, the people too decided to take on this remark of Aiyar:

People also used it as an opportunity to highlight the cruelty of the Mughals:

But there were some people, who refused to give Mani Shankar Aiyar a long rope, considering his past shenanigans and known unbridled loyalty towards the Dynasty.

While the twitterverse is divided over Mani Shankar Aiyar’s comments, in full or in part, it is necessary to go back a little in time and recall what he had said in October 2017. He said :

“I think only two people can be Congress President – mother or son. Rahul has already said he is ready to contest the election”.

“To contest election people are required. If there’s no one and there’s only one candidate, how will you conduct the election in the first place?” he added.

This Congress “election” for its topmost post, certainly seems to be a “democratic process” with the winner long declared.

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