By Nidhi Sinha:
Politics is a battleground. It breeds clans that multiply and proliferate to ensure maximum prowess in the battlefield. Political families, thus, give rise to scions that are torchbearers of the family legacy, and this kind of dynastic democracy is largely prevalent in many countries. Since ours is a country with rich diversity in every possible sphere, politics remains no stranger to family legacies that form an intricate mesh of power in this democracy.
Here are the ten scions of powerful political families that have created a stir in the year 2012 and are the faces of future politics:
The Gandhi Family:
Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Robert Vadra
Rahul Gandhi is surely the emergent face of India’s most powerful political family and party, which completed a whooping 127 years in 2012. He is not however, all that promising. His late and apparently reluctant entry into politics has not been a significant marker of his political ambitions. This year though, his campaign in the hills has paid off as Congress won the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls in the 12 or 13 constituencies where Mr. Gandhi campaigned.
Meanwhile his brother in law, Priyanka Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra created a ruckus for the esteemed family when he was accused of property related scam by anti graft crusaders Pashant and Bharat Bhushan. It was alleged that he had received undue favours from K P Singh–led DLF ltd., buying property worth crores of rupees with an “unsecured interest free loan”.
It has not been a good political year for Congress in general, with many vicissitudes to tide over. Corruption, poverty and female empowerment have been hot topics of debate. Meanwhile this family, which remains at the helm of political power with Sonia Gandhi wielding maximum authority as the UPA president, is undoubtedly one that’s going to stay put in the political arena.
The Thackeray family:
Balasaheb Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray
The torchbearer of Marathi pride, Bal Thackery, founder of Shiv Sena, passed away in November this year. As a tearful state wept goodbye, it was clear that Balasaheb was loved by people and very popular among Maharashtrians. Much criticism has been hurled at him during his lifetime, including accusations of xenophobia. His was the actual power behind the throne of the CM in the 90s. Uddhav and Raj Thackeray are said to be but pale shadows of him who do not have the same vigour and charm that absorbs people.
The Karunanidhi Family:
M. Karunanidhi, Kanimozhi
Kanimozhi, daughter of M. Karunanidhi, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. The massive 2G scandal that resulted in the cancellation of over 120 telecom licenses also revealed notorious deeds of politicians like A Raja and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi. She was arrested on charges of corruption in May 2011, prior to the cancellation of licenses, and bail was repeatedly denied to her until November. She was released following the orders of Supreme Court.
This year though, she courted arrest, opposing the “oppressive” rule of Jayalalitha-led AIADMK government. Around 200 DMK cadres led by her and Party treasurer MK Stalin took to the streets protesting the “repressive regime” of the Jayalalitha Government.
The Reddy Family:
YS Rajashekhar Reddy, Jaganmohan Reddy
Andhra Pradesh holds the largest number of Congress MPs, which makes it the seat of power of the Congress. Two-time CM Rajashekhar Reddy has been known to enjoy insurmountable popularity among his people, so much so that over a hundred cases of suicide were reported after his death in a plane crash. As the rule of dynastic succession goes, it was but natural that his son, Jaganmohan Reddy would step into his father’s shoes. But as Mrs. Gandhi would have it, this move was resisted. This resulted in the breach of alliance between Reddy and the Congress party, culminating in the formation of the YSR Congress Party.
Although charged with allegations of disproportionate asset possession, and arrested for the same, he established a thundering win in the June 2012 by elections, winning 15 out of 18 Lok Sabha seats. His bail pleas have been repeatedly rejected, but his chances of becoming the next Chief Minister are as high as ever.
The Chavan family:
Shankarrao Chavan, Ashok Chavan
Ashok Chavan sprang into the limelight after the infamous Adarsh housing scam this year. Son of former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shankarrao Chavan, he held the same post in 2009 but was forced to unceremoniously resign from the post after he was accused of nepotism in the Adarsh scam. He allegedly allowed civil membership in the housing society meant for defence personnel, and later passed the buck to former CMs Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde who were in power when the approvals were made.
He is among the 13 people charged by CBI in the Adarsh housing scam involving crores of rupees.
The Yadav family:
Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav
Uttar Pradesh gave way to reinstatement of ‘Mulayam Sarkar’ this year, when his son Akhilesh Yadav assumed the post of chief minister of UP. From a cabinet fraught with half the ministers having criminal past and endorsing criminals, to a state fraught with rapes (some committed by MLAs) and poverty, this ‘young’ face of Samajwadi Party has a lot to deal with.
But the might of his family name must not be underestimated. Dimple Yadav, the CM’s wife, proved this when in June this year she bagged the Lok Sabha MP seat unopposed, as three ruling party candidates “pulled out” at the last moment.
The Abdullah Family:
Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah
The Abdullah family is one of the most politically renowned in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Omar Abdullah, son of former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, became the youngest CM of the state in 2009, after forming a government in coalition with the Congress Party. He remains one of the most highly educated (yes, the term holds significance in our political scenario) ministers and also an active participant on social media.
The Sangma family:
P Sangma, Agatha Sangma
Agatha Sangma, daughter of former Lok Sabha speaker and chief minister of Meghalaya, P Sangma, became the youngest Indian MP of Lok Sabha in 2009.
In October 2012, however, she was “dropped” from the council of ministers. The official story states that seven ministers, including Sangma posted resignations letters to the President, which were accepted, but Sangma has voiced that an old resignation letter was used to serve the purpose.
Former Union Minister of State for Rural Development of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), she is also a lawyer, environmentalist and an amateur photographer. Also, P Sangma was himself in the news in 2012 for being a highly controversial Presidential candidate.
The Pilot family:
Rajesh Pilot, Sachin Pilot
Son of late Congress minister Rajesh Pilot, Sachin Pilot is currently the Minister of State, Ministry of Communication and IT. Apart from politics, he has followed his father’s footsteps also in being commissioned as lieutenant in the Territorial Army in June.
The Scindia family:
Jivajirao Scindia, Vasundhara Raje, Dushyant Raje
Daughter of the last maharaja of Gwalior, Jivajirao Scindia, Vasundhara Raje entered politics in 1982, holding a variety of posts in the BJP. She was elected the chief minister of Rajasthan for the period of 2003 – 2008.
She is known for hogging the limelight but in 2012, her absence made as much news as her presence did. Her apparent resignation from the BJP took the state party by storm in May and ultimately her request was denied.