During the long election campaign this year and even before that, Narendra Modi, now India’s Prime Minister, had strongly opposed dynastic politics.
The BJP’s candidates’ list contained a few, but not too many, political dynasts. I had touched on this in my post The arrogance of inheritance? Of course, the presence of these candidates could be due to various factors governing realpolitik.
After the BJP’s victory in the elections, I, like many other Indians, was curious to see if Narendra Modi would walk his talk about dynastic politics while appointing ministers in his new government.
The first sign of things to come appeared on rediff.com, which said, “Narendra Modi enforces a new rule that no children of BJP leaders will get cabinet berths.”
After the names of all the ministers were known, I checked whether this ‘new rule’ had actually been followed. I found that almost all the ministers from the BJP are first-generation politicians. Some of them are children of BJP workers, but none of these parents were senior leaders in the BJP. Only 6 ministers could be said to have had the advantage of family background while entering politics, but each of them has a long track record that could have earned them ministerial positions even without the benefit of family background.
Najma Heptulla: grand-niece of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Dr. Heptulla was a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha from 1980 to 2004. In 2004, she joined the BJP.
Maneka Gandhi: wife of Late Sanjay Gandhi (son of Late Indira Gandhi). According to Wikipedia, “In March 1983, after falling out with her mother-in-law, Maneka founded her own political party, the Rashtriya Sanjay Manch …. In 1988, Maneka merged the Rashtriya Sanjay Manch with the main opposition party, the Janata Dal and became its General Secretary. … In 2004, Maneka joined the BJP. … She has won 5 out of the 6 times she has contested from Pilibhit.”
Ravi Shankar Prasad: According to Wikipedia, “His father Thakur Prasad was a senior advocate at the Patna High Court and one of the founders of the Jan Sangh, which is now the BJP.” However, Wikipedia also states, “Prasad began his political career as a student leader in the 1970s organising protests against Indira Gandhi’s government. He worked in the student movement in Bihar under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan and was imprisoned during the Emergency. He was associated with RSS & Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad for many years and held various posts in the organisations.”
Rao Inderjit Singh: According to Wikipedia, “…son of Late Rao Birendra Singh the scion of the Rewari dynasty who served as a second chief minister of Haryana.” From 1977 to 2013, Singh was a member of the Congress party. He was an MLA for 4 terms, an MP for 3 terms, and held various ministerial positions. In September 2013, he resigned from the Congress and joined the BJP.
Piyush Goyal: (son of BJP leaders Chandrakanta Goyal and Late Shri Vedprakash Goyal):According to Wikipedia, “ He has had a strong academic record – all-India second rank holder Chartered Accountant and second rank holder in Law in Mumbai University. He has participated in Leadership Programs at Yale University (2011), Oxford University (2012) and Princeton University (2013) and is currently pursuing the Owner / President Management (OPM) Program at Harvard Business School…. During his 27 year long political career, he has served on the National Executive and held several important positions in the BJP. He was also nominated by the Government of India to the Task Force for Interlinking of Rivers.”
GM Siddeshwara: According to Wikipedia, “His father Late Shri G. Mallikarjunappa was also an M.P. for two terms: 1996-1998 and 1999-2003. Shri G. Mallikarjunappa was affiliated to the RSS before joining the BJP electoral politics…. Shri G. M. Siddeshwara is one of the top unquestionable Lingayat leaders in Karnataka and a mass based leader in Central Karnataka. Shri G. M. Siddeshwara has been rated as one of the best MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha by various independent organizations based on his performance both in the Parliament as well as his efficiency in the constituency.”
It is refreshing to see no ‘Shehzade’ or ‘baba log’ among BJP Ministers! This is a good beginning to replace dynasty with meritocracy.
What about the Indian National Congress? Read The Hindu’s editorial Putting dynasty before party