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Dynasty rules Indian elections

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 04, May 2011, 16:58 pm IST | UPDATED: 04, May 2011, 16:58 pm IST

Dynasty rules Indian elections

Kolkata: The Nehru-Gandhi family is always blamed for reaping the benefits of their political dynasty. But those who blame them, himself forget that they were mere beginners. Today everybody including M Karunanidhi, Bal Thackery, Mulayam Singh are making their second some even third generation to join their political legacy.

So the sons, daughters-in-law, relatives... West Bengal's assembly elections appear to have become a family affair, to a great extent.

Many young family members of the state's politicians are in the fray. Some have already faced the electoral battle, others are all set.

Almost all of them are banking on traditional supporters and the influence of their kin to see them through.

Fuad Halim, son of West Bengal's long-time assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim, was the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate from Ballygunge in south Kolkata. He took on senior Trinamool Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee.

A student activist of 1989, the young man said: "Intense poverty in the country and sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities led me to contest the election."

He admits that being the son of a veteran politician is a big advantage.

Sitting legislator Dibyendu Adhikari, son of Union Minister of State for Rural Development Sisir Adhikari and brother of Trinamool Congress MP Subhendu Adhikari, was pitted in Kanthi Dakshin in East Midnapore against Uttam Kumar Pradhan of the Communist Party of India (CPI).

"In the last 34 years, the Left Front did nothing for the people. If I win, I will take steps to revise the BPL (below poverty line) list in my constituency," Adhikari said.

"It is obviously an advantage to contest an election as a minister's son. My father and brother have controlled the area."

Another Trinamool candidate, Shashi Panja, daughter-in-law of late union minister Ajit Panja, took on Jiban Saha of Forward Bloc in Shyampukur in Kolkata.

"This is a historic election. (Trinamool chief) Mamata Banerjee decided to give me a ticket because she thought I am a capable person," she said.

Is it not an advantage to be the daughter-in-law of Ajit Panja?

She replied: "It is a positive aspect that I am a member of his family. It helps me. Many say I am reaping political benefits by using Panja's name? But can anyone deny a family or ancestral affiliation?"

Another high profile politician son is Abhijit Mukherjee, whose father is Pranab Mukherjee, the union Finance Minister and a Congress leader who enjoys the trust of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

From Nalhati in Birbhum district, he was pitted against Dipak Chatterjee of the Forward Bloc.

Mukherjee feels his father's popularity will help him sail through.

"My father is a very popular name in Indian politics. He is also very popular in this district. I depend on his vote bank to win."

Subhranshu Roy, son of union Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy and a Trinamool candidate, fought from Bijpur in North 24 Parganas district. But he made it to the headlines for the wrong reasons when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting election officials.

Isha Khan Chowdhury, son of Congress MP Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, is the party nominee from Baisnabnagar in Maldah against Marxist Biswanath Ghosh.

Congress MP Mannan Hossain's son Soumik Hossain is contesting from Domkal in Murshidabad. His foe is Panchayat Minister and CPI-M leader Anisur Rahaman.

Political analyst and political science professor at Rabindra Bharati University Sabyasachi Basu Roychowdhury thinks this is a negative trend.

"In West Bengal this time, second and even third generation of politicians are contesting. This is a new phenomenon. This trend could flourish in future," Roychowdhury told IANS.

"This is a negative trend. Politics is not everybody's cup of tea. Maturity and charisma are needed for doing politics. I think most second or third generation politicians do not possess these qualities.