New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have often mocked the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for encouraging dynasty politics. But in the Maharashtra assembly elections held Monday, the BJP fielded as many as 28 candidates from political dynasties.
Right from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, son of former Legislative Council member Gangadharrao Fadnavis, to Pankaja Munde, daughter of late Union minister Gopinath Munde, and Rohini Khadse, daughter of former Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse, dynasts represented the party in nearly 20 per cent of the 164 seats it is contesting along with its smaller allies, with the Shiv Sena contesting the other 124.
In Haryana, however, out of 90 candidates, the BJP fielded only two from political families — Prem Lata, wife of BJP leader Birender Singh, and Aditya Chautala, grandson of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal.
‘BJP has become a club of dynasts’
Dynasty politics has been a recurring theme of PM Modi’s speeches. He had used it in 2013 to corner the then-Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, referring to him as a “shehzaada” (prince).
At a Bihar rally the same year, Modi had also said he would stop calling Gandhi a prince if the Congress promised to do away with dynasty politics. But attacks on families continued during the 2014 and even the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
While addressing a rally in Rajura, Maharashtra, on 18 October, Shah criticised the Congress-NCP, saying, “In Maharashtra, on one side, there’s the Bharatiya Janata Party, a party of patriots led by Modi ji and CM Devendra ji, while on the other hand, there’s a group of dynastic parties led by Rahul Gandhi and Sharad Pawar.”
However, Congress leaders said the BJP had become a “club of dynasts”, even while it accused opposition parties of promoting political families.
“BJP today is a much bigger club of dynasts, kith and kin who are being comfortably cemented in the political landscape. Today, the BJP accusing Congress of dynasty politics is a classic case of four fingers pointing at their own self when you point one finger at the other,” said Jaiveer Shergill, national spokesperson of the Congress.
“Why just the BJP, look at the office bearers of the RSS. Dynasty is just a convenient tool the BJP uses when it is left with no argument to attack the Congress with,” said Congress leader Pawan Khera.
‘BJP not a family party’
BJP’s national secretary and spokesperson R.P. Singh, however, refuted the charges.
“We have not given tickets to people the way Congress has done. Only those who have worked and performed have been fielded by the party. It is certainly not on the basis of their being sons or daughters of political leaders,” Singh said.
Some of the other significant names which the BJP has fielded include Nitesh Rane, son of former chief minister Narayan Rane; Prashant Thakur, son of Ramsheth Thakur; and Akash Fundkar, son of former state BJP unit chief and former MP Pandurang Fundkar.
The party had also fielded Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (son of former Union minister of state for finance Balasaheb Vikhe Patil) in the assembly elections, and his son Sujay Vikhe Patil in the Lok Sabha elections.
However, charges of promoting family politics were also refuted by Union Road Transport & Highways Minister and former BJP president Nitin Gadkari in an interview to ThePrint.
“If someone is the son or daughter of anybody, this is not his disqualification. Majority of the candidates in BJP, they are starting their career from a very grassroots level. So basically, what my feeling and what my conviction is, BJP is not a family party. I started my political work as a small worker, and I became the president of the party,” he had said.
With inputs from Chitleen K Sethi