Narendra Modi’s ‘dynasty’ narrative against Congress rings hollow; dynasticism not new to Indian politics

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has consistently run down the Congress party by asserting that it is controlled by a single family, which in parts is not absolutely incorrect. In the fiery Karnataka campaign, Modi said that while he was a kaamdaar leader, the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi was a naamdar person.
At another rally, the prime minister claimed the rise in support for his party was due to “end of dynasty politics” and “rise of ‘parishramwadi’ or hard work-oriented politics”. Other leaders, right from party president Amit Shah – who has listed ending dynasticism as one of his party’s achievements – have also made similar statements repetitively.Paradoxically, however, most of Modi’s recent electoral woes have come from not-so-often-targeted dynasts and to boot, none of who are from the Congress party. Moreover, in at least two instances where the Bharatiya Janata Party has been humbled, its own counter, too, has been a dynast. Take for instance the latest round of bypolls for four Lok Sabha and ten Assembly seats in nine states.
File images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. PTIFile images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. PTI
The BJP’s troubles were due to three dynasts from non-Congress parties – Akhilesh Yadav, Jayant Chaudhary and the latest entrant, Tejashwi Yadav, whose father’s conviction has heralded his political arrival. While the two Yadav scions are second generation dynasts, Chaudhary is the third in the dynasty ‘founded’ by Charan Singh.To meet the Kairana challenge, the BJP too entered a dynast in the fray – Mriganka Singh, daughter of Hukum Singh, the lawmaker whose death necessitated the bypoll. She was earlier inducted into politics and unofficially declared heir apparent in 2017 when she unsuccessfully contested as BJP candidate in the Assembly elections.
The BJP’s candidate in Noorpur Assembly seat in Bijnore, Avani Singh, although not being a dynast in the classical sense, was nonetheless the widow of party MLA Lokendra Singh, who died in a road accident in February which necessitated the bypoll.
In the Karnataka elections, the BJP’s failure to form the government despite being the single-largest party was also greatly due to another dynast playing the spoiler and aligning with the Congress despite being the third-largest party, HD Kumaraswamy. BY Raghavendra, elder son of BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa who failed to muster support and resigned before the trust vote, too is a dynast in the making, having already been a member of the state Assembly before being denied a nomination this time.
In previous bypolls this year too, the BJP suffered reverses because of another dynast’s consistent efforts at mass mobilisation in Rajasthan – Sachin Pilot. Besides the Modi-Shah duo, the defeat of the BJP in the bypolls for two Lok Sabha and one Assembly seat in Rajasthan in February.