UTTAR PRADESH: FAMILY MATTERS
All parties are guilty when it comes to doling out tickets to leaders’ kin
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!
LOTUS SEEDS Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh campaigning in Noida