VINOD MEHTA The existence of an all-powerful high command has received a bad press. Critics argue it is a sign of authoritarianism. The Congress has always been slightly defensive when charged with dynastic rule and supreme leader syndrome. Disparagers say, first there was Indira, then Rajiv and now Sonia. They were and are the final arbiters, while the party counts for nothing. Who can dismiss these allegations out of hand? However, for the Congress having a high command - which individuals defy at their own peril - has not always been such a negative. In India 2009, when political formations are constantly plagued by individualism and an inability for netas to see the writing on the wall, one person at the head of a party whose word is the last word is valuable to have. As the BJP licks its self-inflicted wounds, I recall what a BJP leader told me a couple of weeks ago: "I wish we had a high command." The problem, interestingly, in the BJP is not the absence of a high command, but too many high commands. We have the high command of Mohan Bhagwat (RSS), we have the high command of L K Advani (most of the party), we have the high command of Rajnath Singh (some of the party), and just to add to the confusion, we have lesser leaders who pretend to be the high command. All of which means a multitude of power centres engaged in ugly warfare. Much blood has already been spilt." When Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani jointly presided, an element of fear and discipline prevailed. Indeed, even the RSS found itself powerless and had to resort to bad-mouthing. Currently, we have a free-for-all with a novice like Vasundhararaje challenging the so-called high command. The BJP (and increasingly the Marxists) are conceding, albeit reluctantly, the usefulness of a genuine high command. Consider how the noisy son of the late YSR has been tamed in just 48 hours. A word in the ear from the high command, and all is quiet. Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy has swiftly and meekly fallen in line. I expect some of you will once again call me a Congress stooge justifying the rule of the First Family. But just ask Arun, Sushma, L K and Rajnath whether the high command is such a bad idea? - Outlook