Rajasthan Assembly polls: Hemant Meena, Ritu Banawat, Manvendra Singh and many more; BJP, Congress field dynasts in abundance

Jaipur: When it comes to dynastic preferences, irrespective of Prime Minister Narendra Modi not missing an opportunity to take a dig at the Congress’ Gandhi dynasty, the BJP believes that what is good for the Congress is good for the BJP too. At least in Rajasthan, where Congress with 20 and BJP with 10, have given tickets to sons, daughters, wives and even grandsons and granddaughters of sitting and former MLAs and senior party leaders.

Congress leader Manvendra Singh with state party chief Sachin Pilot. Image courtesy Rangoli Agrawal

Congress leader Manvendra Singh with state party chief Sachin Pilot. Image courtesy Rangoli Agrawal

True, in these families, at least the elders who have now been replaced by their second and third-generation descendants, did enjoy strong support, especially among their respective castes and clans. But as the campaigning in the state comes to a close, it is uncertain that voters will automatically transfer their support to the relatives, especially with rebellion against candidate selection brewing in both the parties. Also, with some dynastic candidates having little or no experience in electoral politics, “winnability” on just the family name is far from assured.

The more prominent among the Congress’ “dynastic” candidates are former state party president Narayan Singh’s son Virendra Singh (Dantaramgarh), former Central minister Sish Ram Ola’s son Brijendra Ola (Jhunjhunu), former Central minister Abrar Ahmed’s son Danish Abrar (Sawai Madhopur), Hiralal Indora’s son Kuldeep Indora (Anupgarh), Gulab Singh Shekhawat’s son Gajendra Singh (Vallabhnagar), Pradhyumn Singh’s son Rohit Vohra (Rajakhera), Hari Singh’s son Vidyadhar Choudhary (Phulera), Ramnarayan Choudhary’s daughter Rita Choudhary (Mandawa), Khemraj Katara’s son Vivek Katara (Udaipur-Rural), Jhujhar Singh’s son Bharat Singh (Sangod), Bhikhabhai’s son Surendra (Sagwara), Lakshman Singh’s son Sudarshan Singh Rawat (Bhim), Haji Maqbool Mandelia’s son Rafiq (Churu), Sahdev Sharma’s son Prashant Sharma (Amber) and ex-MP Dwarka Prasad Bairwa's son Prashant Bairwa (Niwai), who had lost as an independent in 2013.

Though the earlier generation was once respected within their communities, that perception has been on the wane in recent years. For instance, Congress stalwart from Shekhawati region, Narayan Singh had lost the last two elections, perhaps the reason his son got the ticket this time. Another Congress leader, the late Sish Ram Ola, had a strong following in the same region, especially among the Jats. After his death, the party fielded his son Brijendra Ola who, despite losing in 2013, has again been preferred. Similarly, the sons of Pradhyumn Singh, Hari Singh, Khemraj Katara and Bhikabhai are in the fray despite their fathers losing the last two elections.

The third generation candidates in the fray belong to families of four Congress bigwigs from Marwar region -- Parasram Maderna, Ram Singh Bishnoi, Nathuram Mirdha and Khet Singh Rathore. Nathuram Mirdha’s nephew Richpal Mirdha had flopped in the last two elections, so the Congress chose his son Vijaypal. Similarly, Congress is pinning its hopes on Parasram Maderna’s grand-daughter Divya Maderna whose father Mahipal Maderna, a minister in Ashok Gehlot’s cabinet, has been languishing in prison for the past seven years in connection with the sensational Bhanwari Devi abduction and murder case. After Mahipal was jailed, Congress had unsuccessfully fielded his wife Leela in 2013. Now, Divya Maderna has a tough task at hand as Congress rebel Mahendra Singh Bhati, an independent candidate who cut into the Congress vote. Other Congress candidates facing a difficult battle in the face of infighting among party workers are Rita Choudhary, who lost in 2013, Vidyadhar Choudhary, Vivek Katara and Prashant Sharma. The one surprise Congress second-generation candidate, former BJP stalwart Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra, is expected to put up a strong challenge against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in Jhalrapatan.

The Bhanwari Devi abduction and murder case had claimed another Congress leader Malkhan Singh, winner in 2008 Assembly, who too is in jail. Malkhan is the son of Ram Singh Bishnoi who had won several elections from Luni constituency. Congress has now picked his grandson Mahendra Bishnoi as they failed with Mahendra’s grandmother Amari Devi in 2013. The same logic perhaps led Congress to pick former minister the late Khet Singh Rathore’s grandson’s wife Meena Kanwar in Shergarh. Though Khet Singh had won the seat five consecutive times, his grandson Ummed Singh lost in 2008 and 2013, and it remains to be seen if his wife can buck that trend.

The BJP, however, can hardly gloat at their rivals dynastic choices and their problems. Their own dynastic choices are facing internal dissent too. A former minister in Vasundhara Raje government Digambar Singh’s son Shailesh is contesting from Deeg-Kumher, while Sanwar Lal Jat’s son Ramswaroop Lamba is the party candidate in Nasirabad although Lamba had lost in Ajmer in the last Lok Sabha elections. In Pilani, the party has fielded Sunderlal’s son Kailash Meghwal, while in Pratapgarh, the party preferred the son Hemant Meena to the father Nand Lal Meena.

Similarly, Dharmpal Choudhury’s son Majeet contests from Mundawar and Ram Sahai’s son Ram Vilas from Lalsot. Kirori Meena’s family is doubly fortunate. His nephew and ex-MLA Kunilal Meena’s son Rajendra got the Bamanwas seat while Kirori Meena’s wife Golmadevi got the chief minister’s nod for the Sapotara seat. Another former minister Gurjant Singh’s grandson Gurveer Singh Brar contests from Sadulshahar in Ganganagar while in Jodhpur, old age saw Kailash Bhansali’s nephew Atul Bhansali being preferred.

In Bayana in Bharatpur district, Rishi Bansal’s wife Ritu Banawat is the party candidate. It is felt that party infighting and dissent could adversely impact the chances of at least six of these candidates, prominent being Atul Bhansali in Jodhpur, Ramswaroop Lamba in Nasirabad and Manjeet Choudhary in Mundawar.

Dynastic choices and weak candidate selection by the Congress saw the BJP gain a landslide victory in 2013. Even in 2008, the BJP was just 15 seats short of the majority mark in the 200-seat Assembly. Congress can only hope that the same dynastic factor will work against the BJP this time.

The author is a freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com.

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Updated Date: Dec 06, 2018 13:21:08 IST

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