Every industry, may it be films, business, entertainment, culture has seen the existence of powerful father-son or father-daughter duos who have made their presence felt and continue to do so. And politics is no exception. Ascension to the political throne holding the staff handed over by a familial patron is a concept not new to politics.
Dynastic politics traces back its roots to as early as 1964, when Indira Gandhi, the able daughter of India’s first Prime Minister, Dr. Jawaharlal Nehru assumed office as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Since then, there has been an abundance of young scions entering the political scene with or without the aid of their already established politician fathers. Here are a notable few:-
1. Bal – Uddhav Thackeray
The founder and the former President of Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray was a powerful influence and a force to reckon with in Maharashtra. Starting off his career as a cartoonist, Bal Thackeray went on to launch his own cartoon weekly ‘Marmik’ and ultimately founded the Shiv Sena, a Hindu right wing religious party. A strong advocate of Marathi people and their interests, he was vocal about his views on the preservation of Maharashtrian culture and disallowing people of other communities to take up jobs in Maharashtra which he believed belonged rightfully to the regional people.
After his death in 2012, his son Uddhav Thackeray took charge of carrying forward his father’s legacy by taking up the position of President of Shiv Sena. Under the tutelage of Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena transitioned from a religious cum political party to a mainstream political party. Comparison between the two leaders, though inevitable and unavoidable, is redundant and not required for because of the way party has evolved over the years. Though initially it was believed that the party would not have the same status and command the same influence as it did under Bal Thackeray, Uddhav proved the naysayers wrong by keeping the party flag steady.
2. Lalu Prasad – Tejashwi – Tej Pratap Yadav
The Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo, Lalu Prasad Yadav is one Indian politician doused in controversies and legal battles since what seems like forever. Lalu Yadav served as the Chief Minister of Bihar twice and the Minister of Railways for five years. He was booked under multiple scams and is currently serving his due in jail for the fourth fodder scam case.
Both his sons, Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav have inherited their father’s political gene. Tejashwi Yadav currently is the leader of opposition in Bihar Legislative Assembly and has formerly served as the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar in the Nitish Kumar government. Tej Pratap Yadav, on the other hand, was the former Health Minister of Bihar. From what is evident from the statements made by the sons and the father with respect to each other, theirs seems to be a closely knit political family with the sons having understood the political landscape and the intricacies of politics from their father’s experiences.
3. Mulayam – Akhilesh Yadav
Another strong father-son duo is that of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav who have their stronghold in Uttar Pradesh. Mulayam Singh is the founder of Samajwadi Party and has served as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh thrice for three non-consecutive terms. He was also the Minister of Defense of India and currently is the Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha.
Mulayam’s son, Akhilesh Yadav followed his father’s footsteps deftly, making his way up to the President of Samajwadi Party (though incumbent), quite early. He became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2012 serving his complete tenure of five years. The father-son duo however have not seen calm waters all through in their relationship. Their relationship turned sour in 2016 when Mulayam Yadav expelled his son from the party revoking the decision later. This prompted Akhilesh to take over the party presidency from his father.
There does not seem to be a dearth of powerful father-son and father-daughter duos in politics. Pranab Mukherjee-Sharmistha Mukherjee, Rajiv Gandhi-Rahul Gandhi-Priyanka Gandhi are others who have made their mark in the Indian political scenario. How deserving are these young leaders is still a subject of debate and one that will not die out soon, but democracy being the people’s government that it is would probably take care that one who finally gets to sit on the political throne is the one who has ‘righteously’ defeated the others.