Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Political Dynasties of India : Servants or Businessmen!

Indian general elections of 2014 is almost over. Voting exercise spanned more close to two months. This exercise involved close to 800 million voters. In another days which party or formation will be chosen by voters to form government. Will it be Narendra Modi led NDA or Rahul Gandhi lead UPAIII, or a left / congress supported third front that will rule India. Only time will tell what voters have already decided.

It is however becoming increasingly apparent that our politicians are using our democracy as their family fiefdoms. Many politicians have anointed their sons and/or daughters as defacto heir to their throne. There are a quite a few such dynasties. Fathers, sons, sisters, nephews are crowding our political space with vested interest and personal ambition.

Scions of political dynasties

In UPA, for example Gandhi dynasty fighting for the throne of India.  For last 10 years prime minister's position in congress lead UPA is being preserved for Rahul Gandhi to take charge. Four generation politicians in independent India, starting from Jawahar Lal Nehru, followed by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi and now Rahul Gandhi. 

Four Generations of Nehru - Gandhi : Heavy Burden on Rahul Gandhi to Capture Delhi

Octogenration Karnunanidhi is the leader of DMK in Tamil Nadu. Karunanidhi wants his sons, daughters from three wives and nephews well settled in this life. So his favorite son gets chief ministership of Tamil Nadu, whereas his daughter, other sons/nephews, and party confidants get key ministries in centre through clever and tough negotiation.

Family of  M. Karunanidhi : Controlling DMK in State and UPA in Centren


Sharad Power, Supriya Sule and Ajit Power all control Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra. Sharad Power is a central minister in UPA government, while Supriya Sule is a member of parliament. Rajasekhara Reddy's son, Jagan Reddy, had such a sense of entitlement and audacity that he demanded to be made chief minister of Andhra Pradesh after demise of senior Reddy in a helicopter crash. Even if it meant dismissing a seating chief minister.  Kashmir is no exception. There is Abdullah family is running Jammu and Kashmir for three generations - Sheikh Abdullah, Farookh Abdullah and Omar Abdullah. Opposition in Jammu and Kashmir is also a family business. PDP is controlled by Mufti Mohammad Syed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti. List goes on and on.

Sharad Power and Family : Controlling NCP (Party), Maharasthra (State) and Centre


Two Generations of Abdhullah Family Heading State and Supporting Centre

Mulayam Singh Yadav his son Akhilesh Yadav and daughter in law Dimple Yadav is an emerging dynasty. Mulayam Yadav, ex chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has handed over seat of UP to his son Akhilesh Yadav. Mulayam is now aspiring to be prime minister of India as leader of third front or may propped by Congress party.  Vagary of voters  mandate may actually help him land there. Lalu Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and sons / daughters control Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar. When Lalu went to jail, he gave his chief ministership to his wife. Bhoopinder Singh Hooda and Depeender Hooda control Haryana congress. 


Mulayam Singh Yadav, son Akhilesh Yadav and Daughter in Law Dimple Yadav

NDA is no exception. Prakash Singh Badal is ruling Punjab with his son Sukhbir Badal. Badal's daughter in law, Manpreet Badal is in the parliament. There is Thakre and family of Maharasthra, that included Balasaheb (now departed), Udbhav Thackeray, Aditya Thackeray and Raj Thackeray (has his own party). Devilal, Omprakash Chautala and his sons controls Rashtriya Lok Dal in Haryana.  Rashtriya Lok Dal may very well be a part of BJP lead of NDA alliance.

Father Son Duo : Prakash Singh Badal and Sukhbit Singh Badal

Late Balasaheb Thackeray with son Uddhav and grandson Aditya


There are may smaller clans like Biju Patnaik and Naveen Patnaik. Naveen being a bachelor, hopefully dynasty will not progress any further after him. Deve Gowda and Kumarswamy controls Karnataka's Janata Dal (secular). A different family dynasty is emerging in newly created Telengana where  K Chandrasekher Rao and K T Rama Rao , father son duo, are emerging as a family team. There is Ramvilas Paswan and Chirag Paswan in Bihar. Apparently, adviced by Chirag Paswan father Ramvilas forged an alliance with Modi lead BJP. There are others like Rajesh Pilot (departed) and Sachin Pilot. Murali Deora and Milind Deora. Jasvant Singh and Manavendra Singh. There are a few more, I am forgeting their name.  

Many of our leaders and their families may have allegiance to both national parties. L M Singhvi (BJP) and Manu Singhvi (Congress). Scindia family of Gwalior. Where Madhavrao and Jyotiraditya Scindia worked for congress. Whereas, Rajamata Scindia, Vasundhara Raje and Yasodhara Raje actively supported and worked for BJP. Digvijay Singh ex-chiefminister of Madhya Pradesh and congress spokesman has his brother in BJP.

Scindia Family : Rajmata Vijaya Raje, Madhav Rao,  Jyotiraditya,  Jasodhara Raje and Vasundhara Raje


 It is true that heir apparents have to earn their right to the throne through winning peoples mandate. Members of family usually get a safe and easy seat. If not elected, they can always be nominated to Rajya sabha. Although on paper, these heir apparents have to fight an election, no one else from the party can aspire the throne, even if heir apparent is a loser. A typical example is leadership of Congress Party. The same is true for all other clans.  

t can be argued what is wrong if son takes up fathers vocation. Serving people of country as leader is not exactly a profession, it is more like a service. Many people used to join politics to serve the nation. Alas! those days are over. People have seen a lot of money can be made through politics. Many political dynasties actually control multi billion rupee business empire. A clear mix up of politics and big business. Personal assets of many politicians go up many fold after their party comes to power. Also, powerful politicians can control fate of business operations by wielding power of granting licence. So many doting fathers decide to give their kids a head start in life by anoninting them heir apparent. 

It appears that communists and Bhartiya Janata Party are strictly cadre based. Every member of the party has equal opportunity, well almost equal, to the top job. I do not know if this is a trajedy or a comedy for worlds largest democracy!

Tags: General Election, Political Families, Gandhi, Pawar, Scindia, Abdullah, Badal, Thackarey, Yadav, Professional Politics, 
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