Even as it attacks the Congress for its “dynastic politics”, the BJP appears to be charting a similar course going by the number of sons and daughters of its leaders in the fray for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has often derided Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as “shehzada (prince)” in his election rallies and refers to the Congress as a “sultanate (kingdom).”
But when it came to ticket allotments, the saffron party behaved no differently and nominations for princelings abound.
The sons of two sitting and three former chief ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are in the fray in the Lok Sabha polls despite the party’s stated opposition to “dynastic politics”.
Anurag Thakur, son of former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is re-contesting from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, while Varun Gandhi, MP and son of party leader Maneka Gandhi, has shifted to Sultanpur from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh. Sultanpur is adjacent to Congress vice president and Varun’s cousin Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi constituency.
Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh’s son Rajbir Singh is contesting from Etah.
Dushyant Singh, son of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is fighting from Jhalawar in the state.
But the BJP insists the party cannot be compared to the Congress.
“The Congress dynasty is the dynasty of leadership. It is not about making someone an MP or an MLA. In the Congress, it starts from the top and percolates to the bottom and is dynastic in totality,” BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told IANS.
“In the BJP’s case, the party leadership, be it Atalji or Advaniji or even Rajnathji, no one has monopolised decision-making.
“In the Congress, only the Nehru-Gandhi family takes decisions…that’s the Congress’ legacy; the final decision maker is dynastic,” he added.
Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed, however, accused the BJP of double standards and said that not just the party but also its allies were also dynastic.
“Modi regularly criticises dynastic politics. The BJP has three allies – the Badal dynasty, the Thackeray dynasty and now the Paswan dynasty,” Ahmed countered.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) headed by Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, the Shiv Sena headed by Uddhav Thackeray and Bihar’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) headed by Ram Vilas Paswan are part of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
Ahmed said he was a third generation Congressman and was proud of this fact.
“I am a third generation Congress leader and I am proud of it. The BJP is not that old. How could they have third or fourth generation leaders,” Ahmed asked while speaking to IANS.
Analyst Pradip Kumar Datta said that children of BJP leaders getting tickets indicated “Congressisation” of the party.
“I don’t know if dynastic politics is native to the Indian way of thinking… the ‘Parivar’ (Sangh Parivar) was supposed to be about ideological parivar (family), not one based on kinship,” said Datta, professor and former head of Delhi University’s department of political science.
“Perhaps it is the ‘Congressisation’ of the BJP. On one hand we have the family lineages and on the other we have ‘Modi-fication’… everything is focussed around Modi, not the BJP,” he added.