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Dynasty fever grips major parties

Dynasty fever grips major parties
The way progeny of politicians have been mushrooming in every nook and corner of the country, it would be better if Indian democracy is henceforth called ‘dynastic democracy’. Dynastic politics has been around for long and it rules parties across board. Uttar Pradesh may be described as the capital of dynastic politics with over 26 juniors, cutting party lines, already in fray. Congress has 10, SP 7, BSP 6 and BJP 4.

The oldest, Rita Bahuguna Joshi of the Congress, is the daughter of former Chief Minister, H N Bahuguna and she will contest from Lucknow in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Others from UP include Varun Gandhi, son of Late Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka, Dimple Yadav, daughter-in-law of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jiten Prasada, son of the late Congress leader, Jitendra Prasada.

The figure in Bihar is less, around half-a-dozen. But they are big names, and sometime, catalysts for change. Chirag Paswan, Son of LJP chief, Ram Vilas Paswan, turned to politics after his films failed. He is articulate, suave and a fast learner of political intricacies. He was instrumental in pushing the party for a tie-up with the BJP. He will contest from Jamui constituency for the Lok Sabha.

Eldest daughter of RJD chief, Lalu Prasad Yadav and former chief minister, Rabri Devi, is another progeny of dynasty. Till recently a home-maker, she successfully took on rebel Ram Kripal Yadav, portraying him as a man propelled by personal ambition. Her aim, if elected to the Lok Sabha, would be to bring more women in politics as their representation is very low. She is contesting from Patliputra. Also, Ajay Nishad, son of former MP, Jai Narayan Nishad, is in the fray.

Half of dozen from Karnataka belong to one dynasty or the other. The oldest is H D Kumaraswamy, son of former Prime Minister, H D Deve Gowda. A key political figure in the state, he was once Chief Minister. He is often accused of providing a platform to the BJP. There is a sibling rivalry too. Geeta Shivarajkumar versus Kumar Bangarappa, daughter of former CM S Bangarappa, Geeta is to take on BJP’s B S Yeddyurappa on JD(S) ticket from Shimoga. But brother Kumar may play spoil sport by contesting against her.

In Tamil Nadu, not just sons, the state has seen the rise of sons-in-law too, though the total number is four so far. In the third generation, Congress’s Mohan Kumaramangalam, whose father R Kumaramanglam and grandfather M Kumaramangalam were union ministers. He is contesting from family turf – Salem. The big ticket goes to Karti Chidambaram, son of finance minister, P Chidambaram. Karti is contesting from Sivaganga.

In Assam, Gaurav Gogai, son of chief minister, Tarun Gogai and Sushmita Dev, daughter of former union minister, Santosh Mohan Dev are in the fray.

The dynasties are no longer confined to the Gandhi family or Abdullahs in Kashmir, the Chautalas in Haryana, the Patnaiks in Odisha, Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu and Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh. They have been mushrooming every where.

It is no longer a secret that that 29 per cent of Lok Sabha comprises members from political families. In the process the performance is sacrificed at the alter of personal growth and creates a new ruling class which values connections more than individual ability. Instead of giving new leaders with fresh blood, the Indian political system is in danger of becoming dynasty oriented – not a welcome sign for a country standing at crossroads of change. In India, elections are full of last minute entrants. First there are turncoats who switch sides right before elections owing to political differences, disillusionment, or simply by realisation of being on a weaker side. Then there are rebels, who on being denied ticket by their original party, either move to another party, float their own party or contest as independents.

Next are proxies such as wives of criminals who replace their husbands if they are rendered ineligible to contest or wives of dacoits, underworld dons, politicians gone underground to evade arrest. Also there are the overnight politicians like wives, sons, relatives of powerful politicians or actors, sportsmen, public figures, who jump in the fray at the last minute to try luck. None of them have serious commitment to serve the electorate and are solely motivated by their personal gains. Union Minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul, who had managed his father’s campaigns in the past, is another name that is doing the rounds. A section of the party, however, feels that he may let it go this time and instead choose the next elections to make a splash.

In a state where dynastic politics dates back to the time when Ravishanker Shukla was the Chief Minister, who cleared the ground for his sons – Shyama Charan and Vidya Charan – to make it big in politics. Both the brothers made mark in the state and central politics. They are no more. If the Congress marches ahead, how can the BJP left behind? BJP Madhya Pradesh Minister Kailash Vijayavargiya surprised everyone when he asserted that the time has come for his son, Akash to follow his footsteps. The minister attributes his desire to pass on the baton to his 28-year-old son after learning how popular he was.

There are others in the BJP like Indore MP, Sumitra Mahajan, who had made a ticket for his son an issue before the last elections. This time she is expected to push her case further in a strong manner and is unlikely to yield to anything less than a ticket.

IPA
Harihar Swarup

Harihar Swarup

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