As the Congress braces for a generational shift in its organisational structure, the party’s chief whip in Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia on Friday defended the rights of politicians’ children taking up the family occupation.
He, however, argued that the family name is just a stepping stone and everyone has to face the “iron test” of elections.
BJD MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda and NCP leader Supriya Sule also backed Scindia’s claim as the Congress leader said, “If a doctor’s son becomes a doctor or a lawyer’s child chooses the legal profession, then nobody calls it a privilege. Only when a politician’s son or daughter tries to succeed his or her father or mother, people point fingers at them,” he said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here.
When asked about one family ruling the Congress, Scindia pointed out the party has a robust democratic process in its organisation where the top leader is elected through elections.
“What’s wrong if someone has his heart in the right place and wants to serve his people? I am not saying talking about developing the country. That may sound very ambitious but one can always aspire to work for his area and the local people,” the Congress leader added.
As Scindia reminded the audience that every elected representative has to face the acid test of elections, BJD’s Panda said, “Naveen Patnaik didn’t win four terms as chief minister of Odisha just because he is late Biju Patnaik’s son. He won because people of the state tested and trusted his leadership.”
NCP MP Supriya Sule, who represents her father Sharad Pawar’s constituency Baramati in Lok Sabha, also refuted charges against dynastic politics.
“My father had to start from scratch. He paid the price for going alone (from the Congress). But he listened to his heart and lived his life on his own terms,” she said.
Political rivals have often attacked the Congress for the latter’s over-dependence on the Nehru-Gandhi family for its leadership. Scindia said the party has also seen a decade where a non-Gandhi, referring to Manmohan Singh, had been the Prime Minister of the government led by the Congress.
“Earlier, we had PV Narasimha Rao as the PM. Sitaram Kesari was the Congress president. So, it is not correct to say that only Nehru-Gandhi family members head the Congress or its government.”
In a previous session Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had admitted to his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s influence on him and said there was nothing wrong if his father scolds him in public.
As Yadav pitched for his father as the next prime minister candidate of a non-NDA alliance, Scindia said, “there’s nothing wrong if he wants his father to be the PM.”
Sule, however, quipped, “nowadays, people prefer self-made people.”