Dynasty politics: BJP has its own share

New Delhi: Priyanka Gandhi’s full-fledged plunge into active politics may have re-ignited a debate on political dynasties but it may also hold the mirror to the BJP which has often accused the first family of Congress of imposing family politics on the country.

The newest member of the Gandhi family has walked onto the political turf carrying a legacy of five generations but no political party except perhaps the Communist bloc, with rare exceptions, can claim to be dynasty free.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose ordinary tea-seller image had a positive impact in the last elections, has often mocked political families. But he has not been able to get rid of the “menace” of family politics in his own party even though ordinary backgrounds of their leaders are routinely projected as a unique selling proposition of the ruling brigade.

Even a cursory look at the composition of the current Lok Sabha gives away the family roots of many politicians who are popular faces.

Among the second generation leaders include newly appointed interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, the son of the late BJP Treasurer Ved Prakash Goyal. In fact, there are many young BJP MPs who have taken over the baton from their fathers.

Anurag Thakur from Himachal Pradesh is the son of former state Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. Poonam Mahajan, MP from Mumbai North Central, carries forward the legacy of her late father Pramod Mahajan, who was one of the most influential Ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Pankaja Munde, the daughter of late Gopinath Munde, is a Minister in the BJP government in Maharashtra.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is the son of Gangadharpant Fadnavis, who was a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council and his aunt Shoba Fadnavis was a state Minister.

Union Minister Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun Gandhi, despite being an adjunct of the Gandhi lineage, hold the BJP flag in Parliament. Minister of State for Home Kiran Rijiju is the son of Rinchin Kharu, who was the first pro-tem speak of Arunachal Pradesh.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh is an MLA from Noida in Uttar Pradesh as is the case with senior leader and MP Lalji Tandon whose son Asutosh is an MLA from Lucknow East.

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara, herself the daughter of one of BJP’s founders Vijayaraje Scindia, has her son Dushyant in the Lok Sabha. Her sister Yashodhara Raje was for long a Minister in the Madhya Pradesh and continues to be an MLA there.

Former Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma’s son Parvesh Singh Verma is an MP from Delhi. Former Delhi Assembly Speaker Charthi Lal Goel’s son is current union Minister Vijay Goel.

Similarly, former Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is an MLA and his son B.Y. Raghavendra was recently elected from Shimoga Lok Sabha seat.

Then there is Jayant Sinha, MP from Hazaribagh and a Union Minister, the son of BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha who last year severed his links with BJP.

Rajvir Singh, son of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and present Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, is an MP from Etah.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who is being touted as a Chief Ministerial aspirant in Odisha, is the son of Debendra Pradhan, who was a Minister in the Vajpayee government.

The problem in Congress is at another level. Under the umbrella Gandhi dynasty, there are several sub-families.

Jyotiraditya Scindia from Madhya Pradesh is the son of late Madhavrao Scindia, Sachin Pilot is the son of late Rajesh Pilot and Sushmita Dev is the daughter of late Santosh Mohan Dev.

Apart from the two principal parties, dynasty is the basic foundation of most of the regional players who run their organisations as fiefdom.

The Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh represents Mulayam Singh Yadav’s clan. The Badals in Punjab drive Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and Shiv Sena is synonymous with the Thackeray family. Abdullahs are leading the National Conference while the PDP is led by the Mufti clan in Jammu and Kashmir. The late M. Karunanidhi’s son M.K Stalin spearheads the DMK. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is the son of the legendary Biju Patnaik.

The clan culture prevails across the board, covering the entire Indian political spectrum.