In ‘game of dynastic thrones,’ BJP moguls outdo Cong compatriots

Since 1999, Congress has had 36 dynastic MPs elected to LS, with BJP not far behind with 31

Bangladesh, Narendra Modi, Mujib year ceremony, birth centenary celebrations, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina, CAA
Prime Minister Narendra Modi won't be attending the ceremony due to the rise in infections by coronavirus across the globe. File photo: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cracking the whip asking Union ministers to keep their kin away from NGOs and embassy functions raises the issue of dynasties in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Contrary to popular perception, it is BJP more than the Congress, which has dynasties.

In the past two decades, the BJP has had a similar number of so-called dynasts amongst its elected parliamentarians as the Congress.

Since 1999, the Congress has had 36 dynastic MPs elected to the Lok Sabha, with the BJP not far behind with 31. In 1999, the beginning of the 13th Lok Sabha, 8% of Congress members of parliament were either descended from or married to former MPs, only slightly ahead of the 6% among the BJP.

The most similar density of dynastic politicians was in 2009 when the Congress and BJP had 11% and 12% dynasts elected, respectively.

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With the Congress having been in power for the longest period since India’s Independence, the prominent position of the Nehru-Gandhi family in the party has identified the Congress with nepotism in Indian politics. However, political dynasties are common across all major parties, as per an analysis of data compiled by researchers at Harvard University and the University of Mannheim in Germany.

A “dynast” refers to any politician whose father, mother or spouse preceded them in the Lok Sabha.

Parity between BJP and Congress

Dynastic politics has again been brought to the forefront of the national conversation, with BJP leaders like Amit Shah, JP Nadda and Modi himself drawing lines between “55 years” of Congress leadership by one family and “55 months” under Modi.

Despite harbouring dynasts of its own within the party and at senior levels of authority (such as cabinet ministers Maneka Gandhi and Piyush Goyal, whose father was the party treasurer and mother a three-time state legislator), the BJP appears to be deploying the same, seemingly successful, anti-dynast rhetoric in this election campaign since 2014.

* UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath is included in the list as his Lok Sabha profile mentions Mahant Avaidyanath, former MP and chief priest of Gorakhnath temple, as his father.
(Source: Data set compiled by researchers from Harvard University and University of Mannheim)
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