Dynasty politics: The numerous Indian Politicians like their 'family pack'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s barbs on dynasty politics and family-run parties, at an address on the occasion of the Constitution Day, need not be seen as a sweeping remark.

By A Saye Sekhar  Published on  28 Nov 2021 5:19 AM GMT
Dynasty politics: The numerous Indian Politicians like their family pack

Hyderabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's barbs on dynasty politics and family-run parties, at an address on the occasion of the Constitution Day, need not be seen as a sweeping remark. The asterisk of 'conditions apply' in the fine print was just not pronounced aloud. For, he has made some 'intentional exceptions' and added riders to his prophecy on how the dynasty politics would spell doom to the nation.

This political conundrum throws up many thoughts among the minds of analysts and observers — who better than the people themselves?

Mr. Modi's cardinal hatred for the 'Gandhis', descendants of the Nehru family, is all too familiar. The Prime Minister made no bones about the same. Though to their utter misfortune, none of the living Gandhis held any constitutional position, as per the protocol bluebook. The highest position held by Sonia Gandhi was that of the Leader of the Opposition. That she had held the 'remote control' in her hand and demonstrated what 'virtual reality gaming' in politics was by dignifying the "silence" of former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh as 'obedience' is a different story.

Well, the vitriolic remark isn't limited to the 'family pack' of the Gandhis. But many "I" screamers (not 'ice creamers') have had their progeny, kin embedded in the democratic system to inherit not only the pelf but even the power.

Take a dekko at the dynasties, which are smaller or have limited their scope to the regions they operate in. First, look around locally.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has his son K.T Rama Rao (who is a minister and the working president of the party), daughter Kavitha (former MP and MLC), nephews T. Harish Rao (minister), and J. Santhosh Kumar (MP) in the political arena. However, KCR justified their presence very emphatically, for all of them participated in the Telangana agitation from the infantry. They faced arrests, lathi charges and they earned those positions. Perhaps, these leaders form part of the "exempted" category defined by Mr. Modi.

In Andhra Pradesh, Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy came into politics as his father's son. Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy had his son fielded on behalf of the Congress candidate from Kadapa Lok Sabha seat in 2009, apart from his brother Y.S Vivekananda Reddy and brother-in-law Ravindranath Reddy. However, Jagan had his claim to the leadership justified by dint of sheer hard work in the form of 3,600-km-long 'padayatra', his multiple tours and 16-month-long imprisonment on various charges after he fell apart with the 'first family' of the Congress.

Therefore, maybe Jagan may also fall under the "exempt" category in Mr. Modi's parlance, especially considering the Chief Minister's strategic relationship with the BJP and his bitter abhorrence to the 'first family' in the Congress.

Mr. Modi's exempted politicos list could include some leaders from the BJP, which is also not devoid of these "dynasty politics". Home minister Amit Shah's son Jai Shah is BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) secretary. And what works more than cricket in the BCCI is anybody's guess. Defence minister Rajnath Singh's son Pankaj Singh is an MLA from Noida (UP), Union minister Jyothiraditya Scindia is the son of former Union minister of state Madhav Rao Scindia and nephew of former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhar Raje (she is the daughter of late BJP leader Vijaya Raje Scindia) and the legion at different levels is huge. Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is the son of former Karnataka Chief Minister S.R Bommai.

NTR's family

TDP supremo and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is the son-in-law of party founder and former Chief Minister N.T Rama Rao. In fact, NTR's sons N. Harikrishna (minister in the Chandrababu Naidu Cabinet) and N. Balakrishna (sitting MLA) represented the Hindupur Assembly seat. NTR's son-in-law Daggubati Venkateswara Rao served as a minister in NTR's Cabinet and later as a member in Lok Sabha and later Rajya Sabha. NTR's daughter Daggubati Purandeshwari served as Union minister in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet.

Chandrababu Naidu's son Lokesh was a minister in his father's Cabinet and was elected to the Legislative Council.

I am not going to discuss the details of the 12 Chief Ministers of the undivided Andhra Pradesh – barring Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, Damodaram Sanjeevaiah, Bhavanm Venkatram, and K. Rosaiah – who had endowed their kin with legislative positions.

Look at the various political parties where the political dynasties have their skin in the game.

Heritage in regional parties

Naveen Patnaik, the five-time Chief Minister of Odisha and president of Biju Janata Dal, is the son of former Chief Minister and Janata Dal leader Biju Patnaik. If Trinamool Congress president and Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee (brother's son) and Bahujan Samaj Party president and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's nephew Akash Kumar (brother's son) are probable claimants of the legacy of the two powerful leaders, the credit goes to their family lineage.

Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and former Union minister Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule is an MP and his nephew Ajit Pawar, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, are the "logical", if not "legal", heirs of the Nationalist Congress Party. Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, son of the party founder Bal Thackeray, is making his son Aditya Thackeray ready to pass on the baton at an appropriate time.

National People's Party is now headed by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, an inheritance from his father and former Meghalaya Chief Minister P.A Sangma who was also the Speaker of Lok Sabha. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K Stalin waited in the wings for too long to take over the reins of the DMK from his father and 10-time president of the party and a five-time Chief Minister of the state.

The Chautalas, Sorens, Yadavs, Badals, Khandus, Muftis and Gowdas

Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana and president of Jananayak Janata Party Dushyant Chautala is the son of Ajay Singh Chautala who is the eldest son of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala who is the son of former Haryana Chief Minister and former Deputy Prime Minister of India Devilal.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemanth Soren is the son of former Chief Minister Shibu Soren. Hemanth, who is currently the president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, got this post too with the blessings of his father.

Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Bihar Chief Minister, had installed his wife Rabri Devi as the Chief Minister when he had to relinquish the position owing to imprisonment, while his son Tejaswi Yadav, former Deputy Chief Minister, is now the boss of the RJD.

Shiromani Akali Dal is headed by Sukhbir Singh Badal who inherited the reins of the party from his father and former Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal. Sukhbir's wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal served as a Union minister in the Narendra Modi government until Akali Dal fell apart with the BJP.

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and president of Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav, who is bracing up for running the polls, is the son of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and India's former Defence minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. The party's reins, too, were passed on to his son by Mulayam.

Pema Khandu (BJP), the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, is the son of late Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu who belonged to the Congress. Sachin Pilot, former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan, is the son of the late Rajesh Pilot, former Union minister. Kashmir leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is the son of former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah who is the son of former Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah. National Conference is their family party.

Similarly, PDP's Mehbuba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, is the daughter of the party founder and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.

Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D Deve Gowda's son H.D Kumara Swamy also served twice as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, while another son Revanna served as the Deputy Chief Minister. Former Prime Minister I.K Gujral's son Naresh Gujral is a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab on behalf of Shiromani Akali Dal.

The list of politicians serving or otherwise in different states becoming the benefactors of their progeny or kin is endless. Former Prime Ministers Morarji Desai, Vishwanath Prathap Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Dr. Manmohan Singh have not been bitten by the family bug. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi could talk against the nasty dynasty politics as he doesn't have one.

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