Arun Jaitley listed three questions in his blog. (File)
In a searing takedown of the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said in a Facebook post today that the BJP would "gladly accept" the challenge if the Congress wanted 2019 to be between Prime Minister Narendra Modi – the son of lesser known parents – and someone "known only for his parentage rather than capacity, merit and competence."
In the post titled: "What was the name of Sardar Patel's father?" Mr Jaitley said in a dynastic party like the Congress, "talent has no space, merit is no virtue, charisma of the family is the party's vote bank" and the crowd around the family is the cadre.
A large part of the blog targeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi without naming him. Listing the "weakness" inherent in a dynastic party, he said if the "current generation" was found non-inspirational or inadequate in leadership, the party had to throw all its eggs in an "incomplete" basket that may be worth only 44 Lok Sabha seats, at times slightly less, at times slightly more. "The ill-informed reactions of the leader become the new ideology," said the Finance Minister.
Mr Jaitley's post comes after Congress leader Vilas Muttemwar caused a huge controversy with his comment in Rajasthan: "Nobody knows Modi's father's name. Everybody knows Rahul Gandhi's father's name is Rajiv Gandhi."
Mr Jaitley said: "The Congress considers only a great surname as a political brand".
He listed three questions in response to the Congress leader's comment.
"What is the name of Gandhiji's father? What is the name of Sardar Patel's father? What is the name of Sardar Patel's wife?" He supplied the answers – Gandhiji's father was Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi, Sardar Patel's father was Jhaverbhai Patel and his wife's name was Diwali Ba.
"The debate whether India should be a dynastic democracy has been ignited by a self-goal of the Congress Party… The argument given was that if you represent the legacy of a well-known family, it is a political point in your favour.
He said, "the dangers of officially glamourising one family at the cost of those who made a far greater contribution is dangerous both for the nation as also for the party to which they belong. The contribution of other great stalwarts like Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose is downplayed. Members of one family are projected as larger than life. Their aberrations become national aberrations."
The silver lining, said the minister, was that the country was changing and aspirational India judges parties and leaders very harshly. "They don't accept whoever is imposed. They ask difficult and penetrating questions and their yardstick is very tough. They look for leaders of integrity, they look for men and women who can inspire them, who are decisive and can lead the nation. To them surnames don't matter – competence and capacity does," Mr Jaitley said.