Has dynastic politics really been rejected?

Several instances of kin contesting successfully in Lok Sabha polls

KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 24

One of the interpretations of the massive mandate secured by the BJP is that it is a verdict that ended “dynastic” politics in the country. The message that spread quickly across social media came in the wake of tumbles taken by several contenders who are either children or close relatives of party leaders.

As results poured in from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or other parts of Hindi-speaking areas, and the debacle faced by the BSP-SP-RLD ‘gathbandhan’ in UP and the poor show of the Congress after its campaign was led by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, led to the surmise — this is a vote against those indulging in ‘vanshwad’.

Yet, a closer analysis of the results shows the tendency of promoting close relatives or children of established leaders is prevalent across the political spectrum. It is only a matter of convenience for parties opposed to one another to fling the charge of nepotism against opponents.

There is little to explain how dynasts have lost out in the face of spectacular victories recorded by Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh, MK Stalin led DMK in Tamil Nadu and seasoned Naveen Patnaik, entering a rare league of league of Chief Ministers ready to serve a fifth term. All of them cut their political teeth either during active leadership of their father or immediately after their exit from the stage.

Then take a look at the impressive line-up of relatives who got elected to the 17th Lok Sabha on the ticket of Lok Janshakti Party, an ally in the National Democratic Alliance.

Chirag Paswan, son of party founder Ram Vilas Paswan got re-elected as did his brother Ramchandra Paswan, while another Pashupati Nath Paras, made it this time.

In Haryana, civil servant Brijendra Singh was fielded after his father and veteran Jat leader Birendra Singh opted out. Brijendra won while in contrast to the electors of the state showing to door to three grandsons — Dushyant, Digvijay and Arjun — of the powerful Devi Lal clan. Quite like Dushyant, former MP Shruti Choudhury could not reap electoral benefits either by being grand-daughter of Bansi Lal or the daughter of influential Congress leader Kiran Choudhury.

So if a son can be voted in, how does it validate rejection of dynasts theory. Similarly, Jyotiraditya Scindia elected by people of Madhya Pradesh for successive terms since by-election caused by the untimely death of his father Madhavrao Scindia lost, while his cousin Dushyant, son of former Rajasthan leader Vasundhra Raje, got the nod as the mother-son duo of Maneka Gandhi and Feroze Varun Gandhi from UP.

There can be many more instances but the larger question for political parties is to answer whether belonging to a political family is an advantage at entry level or do the leaders approach it with a sense of entitlement.

Cases in point

  • YSR Cong of YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s son Jaganmohan Reddy won 22 LS seats besides romping home in the Assembly polls 
  • Karunanidhi’s son MK Stalin in Tamil Nadu and Biju Patnaik's son Naveen Patnaik in Odisha made it to the lower House
  • Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag and brothers Ramchandra Paswan and Pashupati Nath Paras won in Bihar
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