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Political dynasties: A never-ending saga

Rahul Gandhi doesn’t want to get married or have children and is not even sure that he wants to drink the cup of poison, sounding a bit like Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar to me... oh, never mind. Anyway, the Great Saviour of the Congress dithers.


Family name: According to gossip, Sanjay Gandhi was Indira Gandhi’s favourite son

But that doesn’t mean that the dynasty is dead. After all, there’s still Priyanka Vadra and there’s Varun Gandhi. In fact, if Varun rises higher and higher in the Bharatiya Janata Party, maybe Indira Gandhi’s grandsons with be in charge of everything in India? How’s that for dynastic rule and the domination of Indian politics by one family? Or is unfair to mention that Varun is Jawaharlal Nehru’s great-grandson? Or that his father, Sanjay Gandhi, was according to gossip, Indira Gandhi’s favourite son? Just because Varun’s mother Maneka joined the BJP, doesn’t make Varun any less of a “family” man. He still has exactly the same Nehru-Gandhi genes...

It’s not all about the Nehru-Gandhis though... There’s dear young Akhilesh Yadav who’s taken over from daddy Mulayam as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

There’s the other rather good chap, Omar Abdullah, who’s followed his father Farooq Abdullah and his grandfather the great Sheikh into Jammu & Kashmir politics. Not so young but still in daddy’s footsteps is Uddhav Thackeray who will never become chief minister of Maharashtra out of choice but on the off-chance that daddy’s party comes to power, will run it using his daddy’s patented remote control. Meanwhile, somewhere in Bandra East, Uddhav’s son is being primed for the role that the next generation must play in this saga. There’s the nephew too but as we know in this case nepotism did not work, leading to pain and misery. In fact, nephews do cause pain in some Maharashtra political families – look at the Pawars...

The entire Scindia family of Gwalior appears to have smoothly transitioned from monarchy to politics. Who cares if the privy purses were abolished?

Various members have chosen various parties and here it was mummy who made the big moves. So the daughters went with mummy to the BJP, the son went to the Congress and now his son has followed his daddy.

I was all set on discussing Karunanidhi’ s family and their political fortunes and futures but got utterly confused about who is who because of all the wives.

Anyway, the children by all of the wives have some political roles to play. And some nephews are involved as well. Sometimes they are loved like nepotism nephews and sometimes they are not loved, like the nephews of Maharashtra. Apart from a family inclination to politics, this family also likes TV channels.

Haryana is full of political families and they are as confusing to me as the Tamil Nadu family (I cannot call Karunanidhi the first family of Tamil Nadu for fear of upsetting J Jayalalitha and greater people than me have trembled here). Many are called Lal but they are not all the same Lals. Some are Chautalas.

Brothers, cousins, what-have-yous, maybe nephews for all I know, are ruling or trying to rule the roost and sharing things around or fighting with each other.

There are Hoodas and Sharmas as well in the mix. And they do not all belong to the same party, in case you were wondering.

I have definitely left some families and dynasties out of this, maybe because the word limit does not allow me to delve into every single political family in India but mainly because I cannot be bothered. You can of course look for single men and women but rest assured in 90 per cent of the cases adopted families and extended families will somehow inveigle their way into your lives and your voting patterns.

So what about you, dear voter? Do you dither? Do you have strong feelings on the matter? Do you hate political dynasties with every fibre of your being? Or are you being smart and educating your children? A for Akhilesh, B for Bharatiya Janata Party, C for Congress, D for Daddy? 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @ranjona 

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