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Millennium Post

Sons rising in assembly elections

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

 As many as 28 children of politicians have been vying with each other to jump in the electoral fray for either a seat in Parliament or in the forthcoming assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. These include the progeny of current and former Chief Ministers—Digvijay Singh’s son Jaivardhan, Ashok Ghelot’s son Vaibhav, Ommen Chandy’s son Chandy Ommen, N Chandra Babu’s son, Nara Lokesh, Tarun Gogoi’s son Gaurav, Ajit Jogi’s son, Amit, and the BJP President, Rajnath Singh’s son, Pankaj Singh.

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 a dynastic democracy—not a welcome sign for a country standing at crossroads of change.

The oft repeated argument, that one should not object to politician’s son being a politician when there is no objection to a doctor’s son becoming a doctor, engineer’s son being an engineer and so on, does not hold much water.

The objections are not just based on the sons, daughters, nephews and wives joining politics but more importantly on the complete absence of any due process and the walkover awarded to these top politicians. Obviously, it is at the cost of more deserving leaders and it discourages those without such affiliations to enter politics. Even otherwise, nomination of candidates for elections by political parties is done without any transparent due process. It is subject to the whims of the ruling clique. In some cases sale of party tickets to the highest bidder has also come to light.

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 realization 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.

 There are sons and daughters of many politicians in Madhya Pradesh who are willing to take a plunge. But they are not as lucky as 27-year-old Jaivardhan, who had the seat  (Raghogarh) vacated when the incumbent Congress MP announced that it was time for him to withdraw due to ‘failing health’. It was known two years back that Jaivardhan, then pursuing an MBA course from an American university, was being groomed to join politics. He undertook a Padyatra in Raghogarh to acquaint himself with the problems on ground. The constituency had been represented by Digvijaya Singh and his younger brother Laxman Singh for 20 years.

 Other sons of state leaders who are eyeing tickets in the upcoming assembly poll will have to work much harder and cannot be sure of their candidature. They can only be strong contenders. Among them is PCC President Kantilal Bhuria’s son Vikrant Bhuria, who appears to be at the forefront for a ticket in the tribal-dominated Jhabua district. The 20-year-old medical surgeon has spent a couple of years in politics. 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 for being a possible claimant for the assembly elections. A section of the party, however, feels that he may let it go this time and instead choose the general 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.

 If the Congress marches ahead, how can the BJP be left behind? BJP 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 is.
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