Analysis by The Hindu of the family background of MPs elected to the 16 Lok Sabha shows that dynastic politics is alive and well. This tendency towards hereditary politics is particularly sharp among younger MPs.
Organisations such as the Association for Democratic Reforms and PRS Legislative Research have compiled data on the age, education levels, professional qualifications, financial assets and criminal records of members of the 16th Lok Sabha based on information candidates are required to make public in their affidavits to the Election Commission of India.
While experts have noted the growing tendency of sons and daughters of politicians to be inducted into the profession, to follow in the footsteps of their parents, data on this is not publicly available.
The Hindu’s network of journalists, from Jammu & Kashmir to Kerala, used their ground-level sources to seek out information on the family connections, personal biographies and political history of MPs elected to this Lok Sabha from their respective States. After rechecking and compiling this data, The Hindu found that at least 130 MPs in this Lok Sabha come from political families.
Moreover, these are close family connections involving the immediate family alone. While 69, – or over half, – are the sons of current or former MPs and MLAs., another 11 are daughters of MPs or MLAs, 10 are wives, 10 are brothers, and the rest are first cousins, uncles, and daughters-in-law.
Among the States, data shows that Andhra Pradesh, had it not been bifurcated, would have had the highest proportion of hereditary MPs with 18 of its new MPs being close relatives of former MPs and MLAs. While undivided Andhra Pradesh had the highest proportion of hereditary MPs, Uttar Pradesh on the other hand has the highest number (23) of such MPs.
Family connections are an increasingly important gateway into politics, The Hindu’s the data shows. Among MPs under the age of 30, all but 3, or 75% per cent, are the sons or daughters of politicians. Among those aged 30-40, half are hereditary politicians. 25 of the 61 women in the 16th Lok Sabha came through family connections.
The British writer and historian Patrick French first systematically analysed the extent of family connections in the 15th Lok Sabha for his book, India: A Portrait. Along with his research team, Mr. French found that all MPs under 30 in the 15th Lok Sabha were “hereditary”, and two-thirds of those under 40. In all, just over 150 MPs had entered the 15th Lok Sabha through family connections, he found.