Blood, at times, isn’t thicker than water in politics. The lure of power makes it lose viscosity – atomising families, breeding fraternal rivalries. Loyalists turn adversaries. Rivals are embraced, proving right the adage that there aren’t any permanent friends or enemies in politics.
Elections-2014 in that sense is no different except that blood is getting a lot thinner and friends letting animus be the parting sentiment.
Take, for instance, the case of Lalu Yadav’s wife Rabri Devi, whose brother, Sadhu, has become the BJP’s hatchet man in Bihar’s Saran constituency. His presence in the fray as an independent could divide the Yadav vote, helping the saffron party’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy block Rabri’s maiden entry to Parliament.
This “joroo ka bhai” bent upon making defeat stare in the face of Rabri was once her blue-eyed brother. She and her husband looked the other way while he ran amok in Bihar during their long rule before Nitish’s advent to power.
The going is tougher for their daughter Misa in Pataliputra where Lalu’s one-time major-domo, Ram Kirpal Yadav, represents the BJP’s challenge. Even the JD(U)’s Ranjan Yadav was once Lalu’s man for all seasons. Having grown up in their laps, Misa is in an emotional battle, if there is scope for it in the rough and tumble of electoral politics.
The story’s no different in Rajasthan where the Meena brothers, Namo Narain and Harish, are rival candidates in Dausa; the former a sitting minister of the Union and the latter a recently retired state police chief. “It isn’t a brother-versus-brother fight. It’s the Congress versus the BJP,” said Namo Narain, who’s contesting against his younger brother on the diktat of Sonia Gandhi.
Like Harish, he, too, is a retired IPS officer from a family comprising four brothers all of whom were civil servants.
But the same cannot be said about the illustrious Ilmi family of Uttar Pradesh that could have done without the sibling rivalry bordering on petulance. After Shazia became the Aam Admi Party’s candidate against the BJP’s Gen V K Singh in Ghaziabad, her estranged brother, Ijaz, surprised many by joining the saffron party. He’s game now to campaign from anywhere and against any one--- including his little sister.
What applies to the Ilmis is true as much of the Badals of Punjab. There, chief minister Parkash Singh’s nephew Manpreet has accepted the Congress support to fight cousin Sukhbir’s wife Harsimrat. A suave replica of Arvind Kejriwal, his is a fight against ‘mal-governance and graft’ that flourished under the Akali regime.
The trend’s prevalent in many other states: Uttarakhand’s Satpal Maharaj has quit the Congress and joined BJP, while his wife stays put in the parent party; MK Alagiri’s succession war might rock the DMK’s electoral boat in Tamil Nadu; BJP veteran Jaswant Singh is in a lonely battle in Rajasthan’s Barmer against the party he co-founded in 1980.
The Shastri family heirs dot the entire political spectrum: Anil continues with the Congress, while his son Adarsh has quit a lucrative job with Apple to join the AAP. The other son of the former Premier, Sunil, has rejoined the BJP to keep company with nephew Siddharth Nath Singh who’s the party’s face in the media.
The Sanjay Gandhi branch of the Nehru-Gandhi family is also with the BJP –Maneka contesting from Pilibhit and son Varun from Sultanpur that adjoins his aunt Sonia’s Rae Bareilly.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla, too, has switched loyalties. A Congress nominee from MP’s Bilaspur, she’s among Narendra Modi’s most trenchant critics. No unique examples these of nuclear families in an atomised polity. The malaise is all over – from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.a
Like diamonds, power comes with a curse.