The electoral battle of the largest democracy of the world ended on 19th May, when India went to vote in its last electoral phase. On 23rd May, 2019 poll results declared that the electoral battle has been won by the Narendra Modi-led Bhartiya Janta Party (NDA) taking the overall tally to 344 (leads/wins) out of 542 Lok Sabha constituencies, whilst the grand old party Indian National Congress (UPA) got only 93 seats.
The results have stunned even the political pundits – because the NDA has won the 2019 elections with greater numbers than 2014, and the Congress improved only a few numbers compared to the last time. Out of the 542 seats, there were a few where the battle was more about pride and honour rather than simply winning the seat. Those key seats were Amethi, Guna and Rohtak – where political dynasts like Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Bhupendra Singh Hooda were contesting respectively. The predecessors of above-mentioned politicians have won these seats since the last many years and these seats became their bastion.
It was fully believed that the dynast politicians will surely secure these seats, but the results of 2019 electoral battle turned the table to the other side, and these politicians have lost their bastion! Although Rahul Gandhi had also contested from Waynad in Kerala, all eyes were on Amethi where he faced a tough battle with Smriti Irani of BJP, and eventually lost his bastion to her. But the main question that arises here is – have people really discarded the concept of familism in politics or is it just a change for a while owing to the Modi factor? Is this the end of familism in elections?
Let’s have a look at Amethi. This Lok Sabha constituency has been the bastion of the most powerful family of India, the Gandhi family since 1967. The family has lost this seat twice. In 1977 to Ravindra Pratap Singh of Janata Party, who won over Sanjay Gandhi with a margin of 75,814 votes. Amethi was later captured by Sanjay Gandhi again in 1980. The second time Gandhi family lost Amethi was in 1998, when Sanjay Singh of BJP won over Satish Sharma of Congress with a margin of 23,270 votes. But soon in 1999, Sonia Gandhi won back Amethi with a margin of 300,012 votes and since then, it has remained a bastion for Gandhi family till 2019 – when Smriti Irani took Amethi from Rahul Gandhi with a margin of around 23,000 votes.
It can be clearly seen that whenever Gandhi family members won Amethi, they have won it with a whopping margin and whenever they have lost it, it is only by a small margin. Moreover, Amethi has shown that it is not a bastion to any dynasty – as it had voted out Gandhi family twice but later they have returned to the Gandhi family. Does this win for BJP really marks the end of dynastic politics or will Amethi repeat the history of 1980, 1999 when it votes the Gandhi family back to power?
The other prestigious seat was Guna (Madhya Pradesh), where Jyotiraditya Scindia lost his bastion to Dr. K.P. Yadav of BJP with a margin of around 12% votes. Since 1952, Guna has been a traditional seat for the Congress and the Scindia family and since then, Guna has been won by Congress ten times and only four times by BJP. Since 1999, it has been a fort for the royal Scindia family. In 2014, Jyotiraditya Scindia won with a margin of 120,792 votes against Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya of BJP. Only next elections will tell how long will it take for Guna to return to the royal family. Or will it ever return?
Rohtak of Haryana has also been the bastion for the Hooda family since 1991, but Deependra Singh Hooda lost it to Arvind Kumar of BJP by a margin of 1.7% of votes. Deependra Singh Hooda won in 2014 with a margin of 1,70,627 votes against the Om Prakash Dhankar of BJP.
Looking at the past and present election results in these bastions, it is clear that people who have ruled these seats have lost them only with a very small percentage of votes and have always won them with a large percentage of votes. If history is to be understood, these seats might return to their dynast politicians in the next election. But they may never return too – because democracy is all about the government of people.