All those who thought the dynasties proliferate only within the Indian National Congress and the regional parties, would need to correct themselves. The Bharatiya Janata Party is stealing a lead over all of them. Not one or two, numerous shoots are bursting off several well-heeled families within the BJP. Even those of the BJP leaders who were destined to end their leadership on themselves, thanks to their self-professed celibacy, have chosen to take their nephews and nieces under their wings and nursing them for positions of power and positions.
The BJP leaders are often found waxing eloquent about non-existence of dynasties within their party and spare no opportunity to lampoon the Congress for dynastic traditions set by the Nehru-Gandhi clan. But a closer examination of the leadership chart of the BJP reveals that succession is not merely vertical, but could be seen expanding both vertically and horizontally. A TV report recently put it as ‘Vansh-Beil’ (families taking hold of the party in the fashion of creepers). Yet the ‘Godi media’ has hardly ever questioned the BJP bigwigs on this score.
Hub of dynasties
Madhya Pradesh is the largest hub of dynastic politics within the BJP. The story begins from Gwalior’s princely family of Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia. Her two daughters i.e., Yashodhara and Vasundhara Raje had jumped into the political fray within her lifetime. Vasundhara has been the Chief Minister of Rajasthan twice while Yashodhara is a minister in the Shivaraj Singh Chauhan ministry in Madhya Pradesh. Yashodhara’s son Akshay Raje is active in the Assembly segment represented by her mother. It is fairly well known that Rajmata’s son Madhavarao Scindia, was the leading light of Congress, having held several positions. His son Jyotiraditya Scindia has now joined the BJP after cutting off the decades old ties with the Congress party. He has been blessed with the membership of Rajya Sabha recently. Even Dhyanendra Scindia, brother of Rajmata, was a minister in Sunderlal Patwa ministry. He had earned the nickname ‘Mama’ in Madhya Pradesh politics. Dhyanendra’s wife Maya Sinha too was a minister in the previous tenure of Shivaraja Chauhan.
In fact, Madhya Pradesh has witnessed unchecked progression of hereditary politics. Sundarlal Patwa’s nephew, Sunrendra Patwa is currently an MLA in the State. Former State Chief Minister Kailash Joshi’s son Deepak Joshi was also a minister under Shivaraj Chauhan in a previous term. Prakash Saklecha, son of former State Chief Minister Virendra Kumar Saklecha (1978-80) is also a minister in the current Chauhan cabinet. Former CM Uma Bharati’s elder brother Swami Prasad Lodha too was an MLA, elected from Bada Malhara. Her nephew Rahul Lodhi is now an MLA in Madhya Pradesh. Yet another State CM Babulal Gaur’s daughter-in law, Krishna Gaur is also an MLA in the State. She was earlier Mayor of Bhopal.
Who does not know Kalyan Singh, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh under whose tenure the Babri Masjid was demolished by the Karsevaks. His son Rajveer Singh Raju is MP of Lok Sabha from Etah. Raju’s son is a minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet currently.
Former BJP Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis was son of Gangadhar Fadnavis who was a leading light of Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP. Devendra is the Opposition leader in the Maharashtra Assembly currently. Pankaja Munde, daughter of former BJP leader Gopinath Munde is currently General Secretary of the BJP at the central level. She had a ministerial stint during Devendra Fadnavis’ tenure. Pramode Mahajan, former stalwart of the BJP who was slain by his brother, had married Gopinath Munde’s sister. Pramode’s daughter Poonam Mahajan was a minister in Fadnavis cabinet.
Goyals and Kaushals
Law Minister Ravinshankar Prasad is son of former Jana Sangh leader Thakur Prasad. Similarly Vijaya Goyal, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP is son of former Jana Sangh leader Lal Goyal. Current Minister Piyush Goyal, a close confidant of Prime Minister is son of Vedprakash Goyal, who was a minister in Vajpayee Government. Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Goyal is son of Prem Kumar Dhumal, former CM of Himachal Pradesh. Late Sushma Swaraj was External Affairs Minister in the Modi Cabinet. Her husband Swaraj Kaushal was governor of Mizoram. Their daughter Bansuri Kaushal is additional Solicitor General under the Khattar Government in Haryana. Yashwant Sinha was Finance Minister in Vajpayee Government and his son is now a Union Minister in Modi Cabinet.
Late Arun Jaitley was son of Giridhari Lal Dogra, former Finance Minister in Jammu and Kashmir. Jaitley’s son is chairman of the DDCA. Home Minister Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah is Secretary of the Cricket Control Board. Pravesh Verma, a Lok Sabha member from Delhi is son of former Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma. Member of Parliament Abhishek Singh is son of former Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh.
B. Y. Raghavendra, son of Karnataka chief minister represents Shivamogga in Lok Sabha. His second son B. Y. Vijeyendra is vice president of the BJP in the State. Filmstar Dharmendra was once elected a BJP MP from Barmer. His wife Hema Malini is twice MP from Mathura on BJP ticket. Now Sunny Deol, son of Dharmendra from another wife is an MP from Gurdaspur in Punjab. Maneka Gandhi, MP from Sultanpur is mother of Feroze Varun Gandhi, BJP MP from Pilibhit. Prahlad Patel, a party MP has his son Jalam Patel in UP Assembly. Veteran BJP leader in Madhya Pradesh Sarang Patel has his son Vishwas Sarang as a member of the Chauhan ministry. Father Vijay Khandelwal and his son Hemant Khandelwal have been MP and MLA respectively on BJP tickets. Hemant is now treasurer of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. Shivaraj Singh Chauhan’s cousin Surjeet Singh Chauhan is now Chairman, Bhopal Nagar Nigam.
Mahants as MPs
In Gorakhpur, three successive mahants of famous Goraknath Temple—Digvijay Nath, Awaidnath and currently Yogi Adityanath—were elected MP for Lok Sabha on BJP ticket from Gorakhpur. Yogi is now chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Late Lalji Tandon was elected MP from Lucknow, was also a minister several times and was later appointed Governor of Madhya Pradesh. His son Ashutosh Tandon is now minister in Yogi Adityanath cabinet.
Filial bonds run strong within the BJP and the party is no different from any regional political outfits where posts of chief ministers pass on to spouses and offspring. In fact, in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the BJP family bonds are given due consideration while distributing tickets for elections. Yet, the BJP feels no qualm in accusing the Indian National Congress a party where positions within the party and the organization are passed on to claimants from within families.
M A Siraj is senior journalist based in Bengaluru. He writes for several publications in the country.
(With inputs from Akhilesh Tripathi in Lucknow)