By Ashok Kumar
POLITICS is supposed to be a mission to serve the society. In Mahatma Gandhi'stime politicians were expected to lead even their family life with a great deal of transparency?but today, politics has come to mean business by other means. Politicians take it more as a profession. And the best and more successful are those who look after the self-interest better. And dynasticism is not confined merely to the political arena; it is very much evident in our corporate sector too?we have Birla, Tata, Ambani and others?who symbolise dynasticism.
Charity begins at home, but some politicians seem to have taken this adage a bit too far. So, when it comes to distribution of tickets, for almost every political leader worth his name, the family comes first.
That is why this election is pushing dynasticism to a new height and it is emerging as a national phenomenon. Dynasti-cism in this election is not confined merely to the Nehru-Gandhi family. If Rahul Gandhi has entered politics as the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family, then Omar Abdullah in Kashmir, Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh and Om Prakash Chautala and Ranjit Singh in Haryana are throwing down the gauntlet to their adversaries on the political battlefield.
In Tamil Nadu, the son of DMK stalwart, M. Karunanidhi is trying his luck. And also Dayanidhi Maran, the son of the late Murasoli Maran, is also not behind in the electoral battle. In Karnataka, Kumar Bangarappa, son of S. Bangarappa is shooting its bolt to bear the palm. Also on the dynastic list are Bal Thackeray'sson Uddhav Thakre, and the Maharashtra CM Sushil Kumar Shinde'swife, who is also contesting the election. Also not to forget Navin Patnaik from Orissa.
While in south and west India, there is no dearth of dynastic candidates, north India also abounds in contestants having dynastic candidature. They are Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of Prakash Singh Badal, from Punjab; Mehbooba Mufti from Kashmir, daughter of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed; Omar Abdullah from Kashmir, son of Farooq Abdullah. In this regard, Rajasthan also does not lag behind. The prospective candidates are Sachin Pilot, son of the late Rajesh Pilot, Manvendra Singh, son of Jaswant Singh, and Dushyant Singh, son of Vasundhara Raje Scindia. In Delhi state Congress, the internal squabble over accommodating Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit'sson, Sandeep Dikshit in the Congress contestants list is no secret.
It is worthwhile to take a look at Uttar Pradesh vis-?-vis dynastic contestants. In the state, there are a few families, from where two or more than two family members are contesting the election from one party or another. Whether they be mother and son or brother and brother, whether they be brother and sister or father and son or nanad (sister-in-law) and bhabhi (sister-in-law), they all have started casting their spell on the local electorate.
The mother and son pair is that of Sonia and Rahul who are contesting from Rai Bareilly and Amethi respectively. Here it is to be noted that in the last election Sonia won from Amethi but in this election she vacated this seat for her son Rahul. Maneka Gandhi is contesting from Pilibhit constituency as BJP'scandidate. She has won this seat three times.
In the brothers? pair are Ramankant Yadav and Umakant Yadav. While the former is fighting election from Azamgarh on BSP'sticket, the latter is standing from Machhlibazar. Both the brothers have the image of strong muscle-men. It is reported that Umakant has been conducting his election campaign in Machhlibazar from behind the jail bars. He has been detained under the National Security Act. Ramankant Yadav won the Lok Sabha elections twice, in 1996 and 1999, on the Samajwadi ticket. But later, because of some misunderstan-ding with Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ramakant Yadav left Samajwadi Party and is contesting the election on the BSP ticket.
Another dynastic candidate, Ajit Singh, son of the late Chaudhary Charan Singh and president of Rashtriya Lokdal, and his sister Gyanwati are also in the fray. Ajit Singh is contesting from Bagpat while his sister from Mathura. In 1996, Gyanwati won the assembly election on BJP'sticket. Now let us shift our attention to Mulayam Singh Yadav, the heavyweight of Samajwadi Party, who in the last election secured victory from both Kannauj and Sambhal cons-tituencies. Later on, he left the Kannauj seat and in the by-election, Mulayam'sson, Akhilesh Yadav was given the ticket and he won to become the member of Lok Sabha. In this election, Mulayam has left even the Sambhal seat in favour of his brother, Ramgopal Yadav. Mulayam, this time, is contesting the election from the Mainpuri constituency while Akhilesh, from Kannauj.
From the Hardoi (reserved) seat, Usha Verma and Anita Verma are at dagger'sdrawn. Both are nand (sister-in-law) and bhabhi (sister-in-law). Usha Verma, an MLA and minister of state, is contesting on SP ticket. While giving her a serious fight, Anita is a BJP candidate.
Now let'smove on to Bihar, which is supposed to be the most politically conscious state in the country. Laloo will contest from Madhepura and Chapra, while his brother-in-law, Anirudh Prasad Yadav alias Sadhu Yadav is likely to contest from Gopalganj. Laloo'swife is Chief Minister of Bihar and Laloo'sanother brother-in-law, Subhash Yadav, is a member of the Legislative Council. On the count of dynastic accommoda-tion in politics, Ram Vilas Paswan, president, Lok Janshakti Party, is a serious contender to Laloo as he and his brother, Ram Chander Paswan, are MPs from Hajipur and Rosera constituencies respectively and both are expected to contest from the same constituencies. Paswan'sclose relative, Ram Sevak Hazari, is likely to be fielded from Araria while another relative, Heera Ram, has been finalised from Bagaha. Here it is worth mentioning that Paswan'sanother brother, Pashupati Kumar is already a member of the Bihar Assembly.
However, one may argue that dynasticism is not confined only to Indian democracy. Even in other democracies of the world, dynasticism has its roots?Pitts and Churchill in Britain, Bush and Roosevelt in US and the Bhutto family in our neighbouring Pakistan are some of the examples. Notwithstan-ding this argument, one would have to admit that in India the majority of the leaders look upon the party ?as a private limited company?.
If Rahul Gandhi has entered politics as the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family, then Omar Abdullah in Kashmir, Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh and Om Prakash Chautala and Ranjit Singh in Haryana are throwing down the gauntlet to their adversaries on the political battlefield.
BJP perhaps is the only party that does not let the family call the shot. Elsewhere, both party and ticket are in the family wallet.
While in south and west India, there is no dearth of dynastic candidates, north India also abounds in contestants having dynastic candidature.