In several of his campaign rallies across Chhattisgarh, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has referred to Rahul Gandhi as shehzada or prince, insinuating that politics of inheritance leads the country to ruin. But if the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is to scrutinise the credentials of his own partymen in Chhattisgarh, he will find many struck with this syndrome.
Take, for example, Health Minister Amar Agarwal. With the blessings of his father Lakhiram Agarwal, one of the BJP stalwarts in Madhya Pradesh, he has secured nomination, irrespective of his performance in the Cabinet.
The late Baliram Kashyap was a BJP MP for 20 years. His son Dinesh is an MP and another son Kedar is a minister in the State Cabinet. His other son, Tansen, who had emerged as powerful, though controversial, leader of south Chhattisgarh, was killed by Maoists for allegedly torturing villagers.
Then there are the royal families that send their scions to the Assembly or Parliament now and then.
Indira Gandhi stopped the annual payment from the exchequer (the Privy Purse) to the royal families in the 1970s. “There were 13 princely states, and three British administrative districts in what is now called Chhattisgarh,” said member of a royal family and former minister Ramchandra Singh Deo. “You like it or not, most of the royal family members are in politics.” Members of the royal families are put up by both the BJP and the Congress. Mr. Singh Deo’s family members are mostly with the Congress, while the Judeos, another royal family, are with the BJP.
Bijay Bhusan Judeo, father of Dilip Singh Judeo, the charismatic politician of central India who died recently, played a significant role in establishing the Jan Sangh, and later the BJP, in Madhya Pradesh. The family decided the course of politics in north-eastern Chhattisgarh, and in at least two adjacent constituencies. Dilip Singh Judeo’s youngest son Yudhvir Singh Judeo, the sitting MLA, has been re-nominated.
As for the ‘real royals,’ the Congress is perhaps more attached to them. The royal families of Ambikapur, Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Basna, Sarangarh, Raigarh and Akaltara have had one or more members in the party.
Pradesh Congress Committee president and Union Minister Charandas Mahant’s father Bisahu Das Mahant was a member of the Assembly of the undivided Madhya Pradesh. Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ravindra Choubey had both parents and brother in the Assembly from his family constituency of Saja.
Vidyacharan Shukla, a Congress leader killed in a Naxal ambush, represented one of the most powerful families of central India in Delhi. His father was the first Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. His brother Shayamacharan was a minister in Madhya Pradesh and then Chief Minister twice. The third and fourth generations of the Shukla family have entered the Congress. One of the members is an MLA.
Keywords: Chhattisgarh Assembly polls