Scandinavian crime writers have been fairly popular over the last few years. The likes of Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson have taken the world by storm. The latest Scandinavian sensation is Jo Nesbo, who has been writing a series of novels featuring a very “disturbed” Oslo police detective, Inspector Harry Hole.
Hole has a drinking problem. He has done drugs at various points of time. And the love of his life has left him and disappeared after she gets embroiled in one of the cases that Hole is investigating. On top of this Hole shares a rather philosophical relationship with his father who is dying of cancer. Nesbo writes the following paragraph in the context of the relationship that Hole shares with his father in a novel titled The Leopard:
There were those who asserted that sons always became, to some degree or other, disguised variants of their fathers, that the experience of breaking out was never more than an illusion; you returned; the gravity of blood was not only stronger than your willpower, it was your willpower.
Nowhere is this truer than in the context of the Indian political scenario, when the sons and daughters take over the mantel of their politician parents. India is full of political scions who have taken over, or are taking over, or will take over from where their parents left or are likely to leave.
Let me try and make a random list of politicians who fulfill this criterion, starting from Jammu Kashmir in the north and working my way down south to Tamil Nadu.
Omar Abdullah, the current chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir is the son of Dr Farooq Abdullah and grandson of Sheikh Abdullah, both career politicians.
Himachal Pradesh is ruled by Prem Kumar Dhumal whose son Anurag Thakur is a member of the Lok Sabha from Hamirpur and also a joint-secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI).
The chief minister of Punjab is Prakash Singh Badal. His son Sukhbir Singh Badal is the deputy chief minister and the president of the Shiromani Akali Dal.
Sheila Dikshit is the chief minister of Delhi. Her son Sandeep Dikshiit is the member of Lok Sabha from the East Delhi constituency.
Orissa or Odisha as it is now known as is ruled by Naveen Patnaik son of the late Biju Patnaik.
Andhra Pradesh has scions of NT Rama Rao battling for political space. Jaganmohan Reddy the son of the late Y Rajshekar Reddy is giving the ruling Congress party a tough time.
Tamil Nadu has the Karunanidhi, his sons, his nephews, his grandsons, and so on, all hoping to stay relevant in a space which is getting a little too crowded for Karunanidhis.
Karnatka has BS Yeddyurappa the enfant terrible of the BJP. His son B. Y. Raghavendra is a member of the Lok Sabha from Shimoga. The state also has the Deve Gowda clan.
Maharasthra has too many political clans for me to start listing them here (that probably needs a separate piece in itself). But the latest political scion to join the bandwagon is Aditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray and the grandson of Bal Thackeray.
This is a random list and is not complete in anyway. But it list remains incomplete without Akhilesh Yadav, the son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, and the current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
The phenomenon of political scions is not limited only to the states.
Patrick French in his book India: A Portrait carried out a very interesting piece of analysis on the Indian members of Parliament. Every Indian MP under the age of 30 was a hereditary MP i.e. his or her family member had made a career out of politics. More than two-thirds of the MPs under the age of 40 are hereditary.
Twenty seven MPs were what French calls “hyper-hereditary” i.e. they had several family members who made a career out of politics. The Congress party leads the race here. All the MPs that the party has under the age of 35 are hereditary. 88% of the Congress MPs under the age of 40 are hereditary. Regional parties have a greater proportion of hereditary MPs, in comparison to the national parties.
So what does this tell us? It tells us that the Indian voter loves to elect political scions into positions of power. It tells us why Motilal Nehru’s great great grandson is leading the race to become the next Prime Minister of India. It tells us why Akhilesh Yadav, the son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, was elected the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
But that’s just one part of it. It also tells us that politicians like businessmen want their sons and daughters to take over from them. A businessman after having built a good business which throws up a lot of money wants his progeny to manage it. The same seems to be the case with the politicians. Having built a good business model over the years they want their sons and daughters to run it.
This leads to a situation widely prevalent in the Hindi film industry where it’s difficult for an outsider to make it big as a hero. Most of the current crop of heroes are descendants of people who have had something to do with the Hindi film industry. These “heroes” are jocularly referred to as “baba log”.
But it is difficult to separate cause from effect. The Indian voter likes electing political scions and that is why we see more and more baba log entering politics. But at the same time since baba log have cornered most of the space in Indian politics, who else does the voter vote for?
It is a chicken an egg question.
Nevertheless, expecting baba log to change things that their parents or uncles or aunts or grandfathers weren’t able to do, is expecting a little too much from them. The case in point is Akhilesh Yadav. He ran the “umeed ki cycle” campaign during the elections in Uttar Paresh. The campaign was produced by former Hindi film director Arjun Sablok, who directed flops like Neal n Nikki and Na Tum Jaano Na Hum.
The voter was taken for a ride thinking that all that had been wrong during the rule of Mayawati, and also during the rule of Mulayam Singh Yadav, would change in the days to come. That was not to be.
The question that one needs to ask here is why political scions enter politics. That should provide us an answer to why it’s best not to expect any sort of change from baba logs. A political scion enters politics to carry on the family tradition of being in politics. He also understands that at some level he will not have to struggle to make it on his own. Things will be handed out to him on a platter. In short he is taking the easy way out, in most cases. And anyone who takes the easy way out to make himself relevant in this world has his own interests on the top of the agenda and not of the voters who elected him in the first place. The top interest of a political scion is furthering the cause of the family and the people who support the family.
Hence Akhilesh Yadav is in the process of becoming what his father was and probably still is. To end, let me quote Jo Nesbo again:
There were those who asserted that sons always became, to some degree or other, disguised variants of their fathers, that the experience of breaking out was never more than an illusion; you returned; the gravity of blood was not only stronger than your willpower, it was your willpower
The bigger sucker saved Buffett. But Mallya may not have any such luck
(The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on July 5,2012. http://www.firstpost.com/politics/babalog-prophecy-why-akhilesh-wont-ever-transcend-mulayam-368232.htmll)
(Vivek Kaul is a writer and can be reached at [email protected])