‘Apna Pariwar’ works in politics!

Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

Priyanka Gandhi’s name has been doing the rounds. The younger Gandhi scion is believed to be ready to take plunge into active politics ahead of her husband Robert Vadra. However, this may trigger an old debate that whether children and wives of politicians are always preferred over their cousins and in–laws? Interestingly, facts reveal that for those who make it to the A-list, most often happen to be among close family members.

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis of prominent political families across the nation reveals that political honchos have often favored their children and wives for bigger role in place of their cousins and in-laws. Going by the recent political development, Priyanka Gandhi is likely to fight 2014 general elections, almost 10 years after her brother Rahul Gandhi announced his entry into politics. Surprisingly, still there is no sign of Robert Vadra joining politics. The readers will do well to remember that Vadra had expressed his wish to join active politics during Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections campaign.

Erstwhile Team Anna who is expected to launch their political party on October 2, 2012 is totally opposed to dynasty politics. Former law minister, Shanti Bhushan says, “The purpose of our party is not to perpetuate dynasty politics but to promote healthy politics in the country. Our party will give chance to those want to serve the society not to those who wants to use their position for personal use.”

While Gandhis are targeted more than any other family for perpetuating family, they can take solace in the fact that the trend is widespread among all political families, barring a few. For instance in Punjab’s Badal family, Sukhbir Singh Badal was given a bigger role in comparison to his cousin Manpreet Singh Badal, who has now floated his own party.

Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son, Akhilesh Yadav became an automatic choice to take the reins of Samajwadi Party rather than his uncles – Shivpal Singh Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav. Furthermore, perhaps because of Mulayam’s terms with the ruling UPA government, his daughter -in -law also got a walk-over in recent Lok Sabha by-election from Kannauj.

On the same line, the brothers-in-law of RJD head Laloo Prasad, Sadhu Yadav and Subhash Yadav adjusted with side roles. On the other hand, wife of Prasad, Rabri Devi served three times as the chief minister of Bihar.

Moreover, several other big political leaders have only introduced their children into active politics. This includes, former chief minister of Punjab Amrinder Singh, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, former Prime Minister HD Devegowda, former chief minister of Haryana Om Prakash Chautala, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and former chief minister of Meghalya PA Sangma.

Bhushan argues passing the baton may not be healthy for the democracy, “Unfortunately, today all powerful political families are not respecting the mood of the nation and are sending their children into politics. For example, Congress leadership is still keen to elevate Rahul Gandhi in the party, even after he failed as a politician in UP elections.” he added.

However, Political Science Professor Ruchi Tyagi at Kalindi College of Delhi University thinks otherwise. She reasons, “In a democratic setup we cannot bind anyone (politician) with hard and fast rule. One is free to take any decision without any interference.”

The option of choosing successor in politics within the same family has been the trickiest question in the last decade. DMK is facing its worst feud in years as chief M Karunanidhi’s two sons MK Alagiri and MK Stalin don’t see eye-to-eye. The face-off between the siblings too could have been a major factor in the Dravidian party’s electoral rout in the last Assembly elections of Tamil Nadu.

Likewise, Shiv Sena hasn’t reconciled after Raj Thackeray’s exit from the party following Bal Thackeray scion Uddhav Thackeray taking charge. However, some recent events of bonhomie between the two, suggests that Raj may come back to Shiv Sena fold again. Andhra’s Reddy family also felt the tremors of inter-family feud after the death of YSR Reddy, as his brother Vivekananda Reddy first joined the cabinet of Kiran Kumar Reddy against the wishes of Reddy family and later fought a by-election against his wife.

The only exception to this has been NCP supremo Sharad Pawar who has given a bigger role to his nephew, Ajit Pawar in place of his own daughter. While his daughter Supriya Sule is only a Lok Sabha MP, Ajit is serving as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra.