UT­TAR PRADESH: FAM­ILY MAT­TERS

All par­ties are guilty when it comes to dol­ing out tick­ets to lead­ers’ kin

India Today - - INSIDE - By Ashish Misra

Re­leas­ing the BJP sankalp pa­tra (man­i­festo) at Luc­know’s Indira Gandhi Pratishthan on Jan­uary 28, party pres­i­dent Amit Shah un­abashedly de­fended the party’s de­ci­sion to nom­i­nate over two dozen politi­cians’ rel­a­tives as can­di­dates in the as­sem­bly polls. “Hand­ing a ticket to a fam­ily mem­ber does not con­sti­tute dy­nas­tic pol­i­tics. Pol­i­tics be­comes dy­nas­tic when it is de­cided in ad­vance that the CM will be from one par­tic­u­lar fam­ily,” Shah said, tak­ing a dig at Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav and the rul­ing Sa­ma­jwadi Party. Shah’s words were a far cry from Naren­dra Modi’s con­dem­na­tion of the Congress and the dy­nas­tic culture it nurtures. In Ut­tar Pradesh, at least, the saf­fron party that once prided it­self on be­ing ‘dif­fer­ent’, has opted to clam­ber onto the dy­nasty band­wagon along­side its SP, Congress and Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party ri­vals. This, at the risk of se­ri­ous dis­con­tent­ment amid its rank and file.

Un­be­liev­ably, over 20 per cent of the can­di­dates hosted by ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties in the UP as­sem­bly elec­tions are dy­nasts. Union home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh’s son tops the BJP’s ‘fam­ily’ list. In fact, Pankaj Singh be­gan pro­ject­ing him­self as a con­tender for the Sahibabad (Ghazi­abad district) ticket soon af­ter his fa­ther was in­ducted into Modi’s cab­i­net in 2014. And when Sahibabad threw up some un­ex­pected chal­lenges, the party did not hes­i­tate to drop its in­cum­bent Noida MLA Vi­mala Batham to ac­com­mo­date him de­spite protests.

De­fend­ing the de­ci­sion, BJP’s UP state chief Ke­shav Prasad Mau­rya in­sists that it wasn’t his fam­ily con­nec­tion but Pankaj’s “ac­tive work in

THE BSP HAS GIVEN TICK­ETS TO NOT JUST MAFIA DON MUKHTAR AN­SARI BUT HIS SON AND BROTHER TOO

the party over the past 15 years” that won him the nom­i­na­tion. But even that doesn’t work with Kairana MP Hukum Singh’s daugh­ter Mri­g­anka, nom­i­nated from the Kairana as­sem­bly con­stituency. A po­lit­i­cal green­horn, Mri­g­anka re­places the MP’s nephew, Anil Chauhan, the can­di­date in 2012.

The elec­tions this time have also wit­nessed a con­sid­er­able ex­pan­sion in the SP’s list of dy­nasts. Amongst Mu­layam’s own brood, younger daugh­ter-in-law Aparna Ya­dav is the SP can­di­date in Luc­know Can­ton­ment, and nephew (younger brother Ab­hayram Ya­dav’s son) Anurag Ya­dav is con­test­ing the Saro­jin­i­na­gar seat. No­tably, this is the first time the Mu­layam clan is ven­tur­ing out­side the ‘safety’ of UP’s Ya­dav belt.

BSP chief Mayawati, who had stri­dently den­i­grated Sa­ma­jwadi dy­nasts, too ap­pears to have be­come a lot more ac­cept­ing of kin­folk. Hav­ing cho­sen for­mer min­is­ter Haji Yaqoob Qureshi to ride the ‘blue ele­phant’ in the Meerut South con­stituency, she’s also picked out his son Muham­mad Im­ran to con­test the con­tigu­ous Sard­hana seat. Party tick­ets have also gone to ex-MP Qadir Rana’s wife Shahida Begum (Bud­hana in Muzaf­far­na­gar) and his brother Noor Saleem (Chartawal); and Ra­jya Sabha MP Veer Singh’s son Vivek Singh gets the nod from Nathaur in Bijnor district.

In­sist­ing that she gives “tick­ets to fam­ily mem­bers of MPs and MLAs only where the party has failed to find suit­able can­di­dates”, the BSP chief then went right ahead and handed three tick­ets to jailed mafia don Mukhtar An­sari, his son Ab­bas An­sari and brother Sib­gat­ul­lah An­sari!

PANKAJ NANGIA

LO­TUS SEEDS Ra­j­nath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh cam­paign­ing in Noida

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