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The Top 10 Legacies Of Political Families In 2012

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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.

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  1. Charumati Haran

    A very concise and useful list! It’s amazing how much dynastic considerations prevail in a country with millions of people. One can only hope that in this new year both veterans and rising stars do much better than they have before.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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