Despite the diversity of our nation, there is little variety in the make-up of our politicians. In fact, an overwhelming majority of politicians can be sorted into 8 categories. These groupings are not strict, as politicians can often fit into several at the same time.
1. Dynasty Neta
Despite the fact that Congress performed horribly in 2014, Dynasty Netas make up 22% of the current Lok Sabha.
The Dynasty Neta benefits from the family name’s Brand. Rahul Gandhi is undoubtedly the archetype Dynasty Neta. But the Congress party is not uniquely afflicted by dynastic-control. Regional parties too are notorious for being family-run affairs: Samajwad Party (Yadav), Shiv Sena (Thackeray), and the Akali Dal (Badal) are a few examples.
You don’t need to look hard to find the Dynasty Neta flourishing within the BJP either: Jayant Sinha, Pankaja Munde, and Piyush Goyal are a few examples.
2. Royal Relic
A lesser-known variant of the Dynastic Neta, the Royal Relic enters politics because ruling over people has been a family affair for generations.
Fun fact: the 26th amendment to the Constitution of India promulgated in 1971, abolished all official symbols of princely India, including titles, privileges, and remuneration (privy purses).
Examples: Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo (BJD), Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia (Congress), Dushyant Singh (BJP), and Amarinder Singh (Congress).
3. Caste / Religious / Communal Neta (aka Ethnic Entrepreneur)
Indian political pundits often reduce the voter along the lines of his/her religion, caste, or even language. The Ethnic Entrepreneur is a sure-shot to success given the alleged tendency of ‘vote-banks’ to vote as one. Unfortunately, in order to win, this type of Indian politician must perpetuate the British policy of divide and rule. As such, they stand in the way of unity and social harmony.
Examples: Mayawati (BSP), Yogi Adityanath (BJP), and Asaduddin Owaisi (MIM).
4. Gunda Neta
The Gunda Neta typically dropped out of school and could win an election as an independent, but joins a party if it benefits him. Traditionally, the Gunda Neta supported politicians, while going about his extralegal affairs. However, over time he got tired of bowing to his puppets in power, and decided to enter politics directly.
The constituents knowingly vote for the Gunda Netas as he can assure security in return for patronage. Unfortunately, the Indian State cannot curb violent crimes in his area.
The Gunda Neta is a manifestation of an Indian joke:
A-students become Doctors and Engineers.
B-students become low-level employees.
C-students become businessmen.
F- students become Politicians.
Examples: Not available for security reasons.
5. Businessman Neta
The Businessman Neta enters politics for similar reasons as the Gunda Neta. He’s been funding political campaigns all these years, and figured he has more to gain by entering politics directly. He typically does not enter politics to serve the public interest. Politics is a means to protect his business from political interference. Being a politician may also help him take his ventures to new heights.
Examples: Venod Sharma (Haryana Jan Chetna Party, ex-Congress), Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Independent), and Jayadev Galla(TDP).
6. Celebrity Neta
The Celebrity Neta solves at least three problems: low voter-turnout, generating good will for the party, and attracting media-coverage. At its core, the political game comes down to voting, which can turn into a popularity contest. Here, the Celebrity Netas enters the race with an upper hand, as they already have popular name recognition and the ability to draw crowds.
The term celebrity is traditionally associated with the entertainment industry, especially Bollywood. But celebrities today hail from other professions as well (e.g. sports, media, business). New Media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram) are giving rise to a new class of celebrities as well.
Examples: Kiron Kher (BJP), Vijayakanth (DMDK), Smriti Irani (BJP) Sunil Dutt (Congress), Mithun Chakraborty (TMC), and Jayalalithaa (ADMK)
7. College Neta
The College Netas trace the origins of their political careers to their student days. College Netas have the social acumen, but not the wealth or connections to enter politics directly after their student life. Unfortunately, one enters student politics in India not to address local, regional, or national student issues, but to get noticed by political parties. Leaders of the Student Wings (e.g. ABVP, NSUI) get to interact with the national leadership of their affiliated party.
Examples: Sushma Swaraj (BJP), Arun Jaitley (BJP), Ajay Maken (Congress), Arvinder Singh Lovely (Congress), Anand Sharma (Congress).
8. Intellectual Neta
The Intellectual Neta is a rare breed, as most of his or her peers shun the drama and hypocrisy affiliated with political life. Intellectuals prefer to gain employment at Think Tanks or Universities. While some will have access to the ears of top politicians, other will disseminate their thoughts online, through columns in national newspapers, or by publishing books.
Many prominent politicians will show off their Ivy and Oxbridge academic credentials, or professional stints at major International Organizations. Qualifications and work experience should not be confused with intellect, which should be judged based on the quality and content of their ideas.
Examples: Arun Shourie (BJP), Shashi Tharoor (Congress), Manmohan Singh (Congress).
Is This Acceptable?
As the electorate, are you happy with the type of people who become our elected representatives?