Dynasty rules: Late leader's daughter is head of Cong women's wing

In an indication that the allegations of dynastic politics do not deter it regarding appointing organisational leaders, the Congress high command has followed a tried and tested formula, by giving the charge of the Maharashtra women’s wing, to Charulata Tokas.

Tokas (left) speaking at the function where she took over as head of Congress’ state women’s wing
Tokas (left) speaking at the function where she took over as head of Congress’ state women’s wing

She is the daughter of a senior leader, late Prabha Rau, who once headed state Congress and served as a minister. She was also governor of Himachal Pradesh and later Rajasthan. Tokas took charge on October 24 in the presence of senior party leaders.

However, her appointment hasn’t gone down well with a section in the party who allege that the Congress needed to revive the organisation by infusing fresh blood, and not by encouraging dynastic politics.

“Some people may not have resources to run the organisation, but they may have excellent leadership qualities which could take the party out of the woods,” said a leader, requesting anonymity.

Dynastical party
Tokas isn’t the only person that represents dynasty in the Maharashtra Congress. The party’s state unit is headed by Ashok Chavan, whose father was a CM and Union home minister. He has been a CM himself, but had to be brought in to head the Congress because of his acceptance among the rank and file.

The Maharashtra Congress youth wing is also led by Vishwajit Kadam, the political heir of former minister Patangrao Kadam. He was, however, elected through polls conducted by the party. The Congress and NCP’s successive Cabinets that ruled the state in the past 15 years had many leaders representing dynastic politics.

Other parties too are not different. The BJP’s existing Cabinet has some persons whose fathers held ministerial or party offices. Most of the candidates in the last years’ Lok Sabha and Assembly polls were also chosen on the basis of political background of their parents.

A woman Congress leader said that Tokas’s only claim to fame was her tenure as a president of the Wardha Zilla Parishad many years ago. “After completing this tenure, she spent most of her time outside the state (Charulata is married to former international swimmer Khajan Singh Tokas).

However, she did come back during last year’s Lok Sabha polls to seek candidature from Wardha, which her illustrious mother represented in the Lok Sabha,” said the leader.

Tokas had contested a US style primary election with the aim of selecting candidates democratically for the Wardha Lok Sabha seat last year, but lost to Sagar Meghe, the son of then sitting Congress MP Datta Meghe. The Meghes shifted their loyalty to the BJP after losing the Lok Sabha polls. One of Datta Meghe’s sons Sameer Meghe is now BJP’s MLA.

Sources in Congress said that Tokas’ appointment was seen a reward for the family’s loyalty to the Congress party. “Also, the party feels that she was meted out injustice by denying her the Lok Sabha ticket. Some people will always be unhappy with such decisions. But they should understand that we need leaders who have considerable support in the state,” said the leader.

Tokas’ family has yet another leader in her cousin Ranjeet Kamble, a sitting Congress legislator from Wardha’s Deoli, who was a minister in the Congress-NCP governments for 10 years.

‘She’s worked for Cong’
All India Congress office-bearer Mohan Prakash, who is in-charge of the party’s affairs in Maharashtra, denied allegations of encouraging dynastic politics.

“Tokas had been active in politics for so many years. She was elected as the ZP chairman and was part of the All Indian Women’s Congress Committee. She was given the charge of the Maharashtra unit only because of her work in the Congress,” he said.

Tokas said her hard work will speak for itself. “I don’t want to comment on allegations. What I know is that I have to work hard for the party to bring it back in power,” she told mid-day from Dombivli where she was campaigning for the party’s municipal poll candidates.

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