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How controversies SHOOK dynastic politics in India

Last updated on: January 31, 2013 13:55 IST

How controversies SHOOK dynastic politics in India

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Being Indians, we are not new to the concept of dynasty in Indian politics. The most obvious example is the Nehru-Gandhi family/dynasty, which has always dominated the Congress.

But having said that, dynasty politics in those times was not as all-powerful and blatant back in those days. Let's just say, back then, it was just considered a 'natural progression'.

Recent data suggests that around 28 per cent of politicians in India owe their access to the system through their family backgrounds.

But as times changed, the nature and dynamics of these dynasties changed. While we watched with growing disdain how a powerful politician in Bihar who had to abdicate his chair in the eye of a multi-crore scam -- only to be replaced by his wife with no political background, we also saw other biggies initially taking a big fall, but eventually rising to resounding popularity. Politicos in power, it seems, in those days, were untouchable, even invulnerable.

Then, something changed over the last few years. The 2G scam exploded and left many political heavyweights shamefaced. This was followed by the mining scam in Karnataka which had been in the potboiler for quite some time, the National Rural Health Mission scam in Uttar Pradesh, the Andhra Pradesh land scam, and the irrigation scam in Maharashtra.

And then came an anti-graft crusader with the force of a blitzkrieg who dared to target probably the softest corner in India's most powerful political family. His efforts created a huge public outcry, and yes, the well-protected son-in-law had to duck under pressure -- only temporarily, as the shrewd rulers, with a coterie of clever bodyguards, did manage to slide the controversy under the carpet of public oblivion.

Scams are nothing new to India, but this time, something extraordinary happened -- we actually saw politicians with high portfolios being prosecuted and being sent to jail -- their dynasty connections notwithstanding. The only difference? The ones being jailed were not in the big game anymore, but had been.

Rediff.com brings you some of the biggies who the law caught up with, eventually.

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The 2G scam: A Raja, casualty# 1

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A Raja holds the distinction of being No 2 in Time Magazine's 'Top 10 Abuses of Power' list.

The 2G spectrum financial scandal involved the alleged corrupt sale in 2008 of telecommunications bandwidth to selected organisations at prices that understated the real market value of the asset.

The sale is claimed to have occurred when Raja headed the telecommunications and IT Ministry; it has been considered the largest political corruption case in modern Indian history, amounting to around 176,645 crore (US$32.15 billion of lost income for the government.

In 2011, the results of an investigation by retired judge Shivraj Patil, who was appointed by Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, has also found Raja to have been directly responsible for 'procedural lapses' regarding the sale

The Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate estimate that Raja could have made as much as Rs 3,000 crore from the alleged bribes.

Raja's homes and offices were raided by the CBI and his two former associates were also arrested. The three were questioned and thereafter Raja was placed for a period in judicial custody at Tihar Jail.

Subsequent to his arrest, the Dravida Munettra Kazhagam supported him on the basis that he was innocent until proven guilty.

On 15 May 2012, he was granted bail by the Supreme Court under a condition that he would not visit the Department of Telecommunications nor his home state Tamil Nadu. He stayed in Tihar jail for 15 months.

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Image: Former Telecom Minister A Raja


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The 2G scam: Kanimozhi, casualty# 2

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Kanimozhi, a member of Parliament and the daughter of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi was arrested by CBI for her involvement in the 2G spectrum scam in May 2011.

According to the CBI chargesheet, Kanimozhi has a 20 per cent stake in her family-owned Kalaignar TV. The CBI alleged that Kanimozhi had a hand behind the channel's operations and she worked with former Telecom Minister A Raja to get DB realty promoter Shahid Balwa to circuitously route 200 crore ( to Kalaignar TV.

The CBI alleged that Kanimozhi was in regular touch with Raja regarding launching of Kalaignar TV channel and its other pending works. She was also summoned by the Income Tax Department, Chennai for alleged tax evasion charges.

Inititally, Kanimozhi made publicity by telling media that she would not ask for bail and had enough courage to face the charges against her. But later, she and her father provoked party workers repeatedly begging the court with petitions and re-appeals for bail based on her "single-mother" and 'woman' status.

She spent around 190 days in the Tihar Jail in New Delhi.

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Image: DMK MP Kanimozhi


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India's richest politician: Jagan Mohan Reddy

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The fledgling YSR Congress party, launched by YS Jaganmohan Reddy after his father YS Rajashekhar Reddy's death, swept the by-elections in Andhra Pradesh last year in June, denting the last bastion of Congress in the south.

Jagan Mohan Reddy was charged by the CBI in March last year on grounds of Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 477A (falsification of accounts) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the second chargesheet filed by the CBI, Jagan and his father 'adopted several ingenious ways to amass illegal wealth which resulted in great public injury' and at the cost of public exchequer, allegedly by misusing the office of the chief minister.

The CBI is trying to prove through court proceedings that Jagan, in conspiracy with an associate, had 'fraudulently obtained a wrongful gain of Rs 34,65,99,830 of investments into Jagati Publications from investors.

India's richest politician has been languishing in jail since May 2012, after many failed attempts at bail.

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Image: Jagan arriving at the Chanchalguda prison
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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Reddy brothers: The mining 'mafiosi'

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The growth of G Janardhan Reddy, the youngest of three sons of a police constable, along with his close friend and trusted aide B Sriramulu, was nothing short of a rags to riches story.

He and his brothers transformed themselves in less than a decade from obscure activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party, into political bosses who directly or indirectly controlled three state ministries and dominated the local government in the Bellary district in Karnataka, which holds the state's richest iron ore deposits.

Janardhana came into the limelight during the Lok Sabha elections in 1999, when the Reddy brothers worked for senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj after she stood as a long-shot candidate in Bellary, against Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Though Swaraj lost, she remained a patron of the Reddy's, and was known to visit Bellary every year until 2011.

According to Tehelka: In May 2009, the family spent an estimated Rs 20 crore on a wedding. The helicopters owned by the family ferried over 10,000 guests to the wedding even as 500 air conditioners helped them forget outside temperatures of 42 degree Celsius. A month later, the brothers donated a Rs 42 crore diamond-studded crown to a temple deity.

The Reddy brothers obtained their first lease for an iron mine in 2004. From then on, their rise was meteoric -- driven by soaring commodity prices, primarily due to demand for iron ore in China.

The rule of the iron ore mafia under his command was called the 'Republic of Bellary' in which no external control or governance mechanism had any effect .The CBI or other investigative bodies in India have not yet acted on the allegations in the 2010 Lokayukta report.

Janardhana was arrested on September 5, 2011, by the CBI. He was accused of being involved in the illegal mining and export of iron ore in Bellary and Anantapur. The CBI is also investigating the bribing of a Hyderabad CBI special court judge to secure bail for Janardhana in the Obulapuram Mining Company case by his family members, including his older brother, G Karunakara Reddy.

Janardhana is still lodged in Hyderabad's Chanchagunda Jail.

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Image: Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj with the Reddy brothers


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The Owaisi family

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All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Akbaruddin Owaisi is no newbie in sparking controversies with his hate-speeches. The floor leader of his party in the Andhra Pradesh assembly, Akbaruddin belongs to the influential Owaisi family with Hyderabad as its stronghold.

His father, six-time MP Salahuddin Owaisi, also known as 'Salar-e-Millat', took over the presidency of MIM from his father Abdul Wahed Owaisi in 1976, and had repeatedly alleged in his speeches that the Indian state had 'abandoned' the Muslims to their fate.

His elder brother, MP Asaduddin, also known for his fiery speeches both inside and outside Parliament, has been at the helm of MIM's affairs since 2004 when their father stepped down.

Towards the end of 2012, Akbaruddin made several speeches disparaging Hindus and Hindu beliefs, and on December 24 2012, he said at a public meeting in Adilabad that the 250 million Muslims of India needed only 15 minutes without the police to show one billion Hindus of India who is more powerful.

The Owaisi brothers and others were recently booked under sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 147 (rioting), 186 (obstructing public servant while discharging duties) and seven other sections of the Indian penal Code in connection with a 2005 case, for allegedly obstructing the then Medak district collector and other officials from discharging their duties.

Asaduddin was recently arrested and subsequently granted bail. Akbaruddin had no such luck and his bail was rejected in the same case. He is already lodged in the Adilabad district jail in connection with cases related to his recent hate speeches at Nirmal in Adilabad district, Nizamabad, Hyderabad and other parts of Andhra Pradesh.

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Image: Akbaruddin Owaisi with his brother, MP Asaduddin Owaisi, in Hyderabad
Photographs: SnapsIndia
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The Chautalas

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Om Prakash Chautala, 78, has been the chief minister of Haryana four times --  his tenure spanning from six days to six years.

His father, the late Chaudhary Devi Lal was an Indian politician and freedom fighter who served as the chief minister of Haryana for the first time, from 1977 to 79 and second time from 1987 to 89. He also served as sixth deputy prime minister from 1989 to 1991.

Chautala was publicly disowned by his father for allegedly smuggling gold watches worth Rs 100,000 at the Delhi airport in 1997.

As chief minister, Chautala was accused of protecting SPS Rathore in the Ruchika Girotra molestation case. But justice was denied, and subsequently the girl committed suicide later.

During the period of 1999-200, he and his son, Ajay Singh, amember of Legislative Assembly, were accused in connection with a scam relating to the illegal recruitment of over 3,000 teachers in Haryana, alleging that a bribe of Rs 3-4 lakh was paid for each appointment.

His other son, Abhay Chautala, was in the news for his controversial election as the Indian Boxing Federation and the Olympic Association president. The election resulted in Indian boxers being suspended fro, participating in internation events, and India being suspended from the International Olympic Committee.

But finally, the law caught up with them.

A New Delhi court sentenced Om Prakash and Ajay for 10 years imprisonment under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act on the of January 22, 2013. The CBI probe was ordered by the Supreme Court during the National Democratic Alliance regime led by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The CBI had on June 6, 2008, chargesheeted him and 53 others in connection with the appointment scam. On January 16, 2013 he was convicted by a Delhi court for illegal recruitment of over 3000 teachers.

Soon after this he and Ajay were immediately taken into police custody, and sentenced.


Image: Former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala


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