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What Unites Pawars And Scindias?

By Archis Mohan
April 16, 2024 15:29 IST
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Exigencies of electoral politics and individual ambitions often stoke family feuds and sibling rivalries.

IMAGE: Supriya Sule, Nationalist Congress Party founder Sharad Pawar's daughter, with her cousin Ajit Pawar who not only broke from the family but also took over his uncle's party. Photograph: ANI Photo

Senior Congress leader A K Antony is unwell and is unlikely to campaign against his son Anil, the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Kerala's Pathanamthitta.

But his wish that he would rather have his son lose is reminiscent of the political discord between the BJP's Vijaya Raje Scindia and her son, Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia, in the 1984 Lok Sabha election for the Gwalior seat.

Vijayaraje, a founding member of the BJP and a key backer of its earlier avatar, the Jana Sangh, campaigned against her son when he contested, at the insistence of Rajiv Gandhi, against the BJP's Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who lost.

The Antony family saga is one of many instances of the exigencies of electoral politics and individual ambitions stoking family feuds and sibling rivalries in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. However, not all parents are immune to the tug of filial bonds, even if it means straying from their ideological allegiance or party affiliation.

In Odisha, the Congress has asked its veteran legislator Suresh Routray to explain his conduct in canvassing support for his son, Manmath, the Biju Janata Dal candidate for the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat. Routray, 78, a six-term legislator from the Jatani assembly constituency, is a leader well-known for his one-liners.

News reports from Odisha said Suresh sought votes for his son in the city's parks. In his defence, Suresh said he had been a Congress worker for 51 years and would die a Congress worker. 'I have not asked anyone to vote for my son, but when people seek my advice on whether they should vote for my son, I tell them yes,' he said.

In Odisha's Patkura assembly constituency, in Kendrapara district, BJP leader and former minister Bijoy Mohapatra is campaigning for his son, Arabinda, the BJD candidate from the seat.

Bijoy, one of the founders of the BJD in 1997, turned a bitter critic and opponent of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in later years. He lost from Patkura as a BJP candidate in 2019 and has largely been inactive in the BJP ever since. However, the BJP's Kendrapara unit has demanded disciplinary action against Bijoy.

In Andhra Pradesh's Kadapa, Y S Sharmila Reddy, the Congress' state unit chief, is contesting against her cousin, sitting MP Y S Avinash Reddy of the YSR Congress Party. Sharmila is the sister of Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who heads the YSRCP.

Avinash Reddy is facing allegations of having a hand in the murder of Sharmila's uncle, Y S Vivekananda Reddy, a former Kadapa MP. Y S Vivekananda Reddy, Jagan and Sharmila's father, the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's younger brother, was killed at his residence on March 15, 2019, weeks before the elections.

From Bihar's Samastipur, the Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) has fielded Sambhavi Choudhary, daughter of Janata Dal-United Minister Ashok Kumar Choudhary. Her grandfather Mahavir Choudhary was a former Bihar minister from the Congress. Relations between Chirag and JD-U President Nitish Kumar have mended after the bitterness of the 2020 assembly polls as their parties are now part of the National Democratic Alliance.

Earlier this month, a social media post showing Sanghamitra Maurya, the BJP's Badaun Lok Sabha MP, bursting into tears caught people's attention. In the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls in 2022, her father Swami Prasad Maurya, a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, quit the BJP to join the Samajwadi Party, leaving the daughter answering questions about her allegiance to the party.

Swami Prasad has since quit the SP and floated his own party, while the BJP has denied Sanghamitra the opportunity to defend her seat.

With his father, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha turning a critic of the Narendra Modi-led government, joining the Trinamool Congress, and later contesting as the Opposition's presidential candidate against Droupadi Murmu led to inconvenient questions being asked of his son Jayant Sinha.

For the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Jayant, a two-term MP from Jharkhand's Hazaribagh, announced his decision to quit active politics hours before the BJP announced its first list of candidates on March 2.

In Punjab, Parampal Kaur Sidhu, the daughter-in-law of senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sikander Singh Maluka, quit the IAS and joined the BJP, along with her husband Gurpreet Maluka. According to sources, the BJP could field her from the Bathinda seat against sitting MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, for whom her father-in-law has been campaigning.

There are other instances of family ties coming under pressure in the 2024 polls, such as in Maharashtra's Baramati with Sunetra Pawar, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's wife, challenging sitting MP, her sister-in-law Supriya Sule. Sunetra is the nominee of the Ajit-led faction of the Nationalist Congress Party and Sule of her father Sharad Pawar-led faction of the party.

On the state's Osmanabad seat, Omprakash Raje Nimbalkar, the candidate of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) faces Archana Patil of the Ajit Pawar-led NCP, both of whom are members of the extended Pawar clan.

In Odisha's Ganjam district, two brothers, sons of Congress leader, former Odisha assembly speaker Chintamani Dyan Samantaray, are contesting the Chikiti assembly seat.

The BJP has fielded younger brother Manoranjan Dyan Samantaray against the Congress's Ravindranath Dyan Samantaray. Their father, who represented Chikiti thrice in the Odisha assembly, said he had always been a Congress worker and would remain so.

The seat is currently with the BJD's Usha Devi, the state's urban development minister, who has won it consecutively since 2000, and has now made way for her son Chinmayananda.

Arguably the most famous family feud of Indian politics, other than that of the Scindias, was also witnessed in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections where Maneka Gandhi, supported by all the Opposition parties, contested as an Independent against her brother-in-law, Rajiv Gandhi, from Amethi.

She ended up as a runner-up, receiving a meagre 11.5 per cent of the votes polled to Rajiv's 83.67 per cent.

The Opposition failed to exploit the fissures in the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to halt Rajiv's march.

But family feuds have been known to come in handy for leaders to settle scores. In 2014, the Trinamool Congress fielded Satya Ranjan Dasmunshi, the brother of the late Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi from West Bengal's Raiganj against his widow Deep Dasmunshi.

A vocal critic of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Deepa was the sitting MP from the seat. Deepa secured a respectable 315,881 votes but lost to the CPI-M's Mohammed Salim by 1,634 votes with her brother-in-law, Satya Ranjan, securing a little over 190,000 votes.

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Archis Mohan in New Delhi
Source: source
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024