There is hardly any period in the Indian modern history that has
been so predominantly dominated by sons of politicians than the
late 1970s. The sons, more often than not have spelt doomed to the
careers of their politician fathers.
Although the sex scandal of Suresh Ram didn't do
much apparent damage to Jagjivan Ram's image, it certainly diminished
the chances of his becoming the Prime Minister.
Sanjay Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi during the preceding
Congress rule had already done sufficient damage to Indira Gandhi.
During the Emergency, Sanjay Gandhi had played dubious role, adding
fuel to the fire and the subsequent defeat of Indira Gandhi in the
Similar was the case of Kanti Desai, son of the then
Prime Minister Morarji Desai. He too was allegedly involved in financial
embezzlement and brought discredits to his father.
"It could be rightfully called the age of politicians'
sons. They competed with each other in brazen examples to outsmart
each other", says Inder Malhotra, the eminent journalist while
recalling that phase.
They were leveled as the Famous Threes, Sanjay Gandhi,
Kanti Desai and Suresh Ram. They were known for the position and
access they enjoyed by the virtue of their politician parents. They
had a parallel in each other and a common thread of controversies,
which strung them together.
"In fact, in many ways Suresh Ram tried to emulate
Sanjay Gandhi and received the same shelter from his father which
Sanjay got from her mother. It was a game of one-upmanship amongst
the three sons who tried to outsmart each other", says Inder
If Suresh Ram was involved in sex scandal, there
were allegations of grafts against Kanti Desai. In fact, charges
against Kanti Desai started leveling up when Morarji Desai became
Deputy Prime Minister in 1967.
Madhu Limaye, a noted socialist is alleged to have
written a letter to Morarji Desai. The letter however, got leaked
to the press. In the letter, Limaye had asked for Kanti Desai's
ouster from the PM's house because he had allegedly collected Rs
80 lakh for party funds and misused his position as PM's son.
It was not only Morarji Desai but Home Minister Charan
Singh also whose relatives were alleged to have received favours.
On April 11, 1978, Rajya Sabha had adopted a motion for probe into
graft charges, of allegations against the families of Prime Minister
Morarji Desai and Home Minister Charan Singh.
But probably it is nothing new, as family bonds run
deep in Indian politics. "Family affiliations have always played
an important role in Indian political life. It was always there
and will remain in times to come", says Prithvis Chakravorty,
a senior journalist.
In fact, barring Sanjay Gandhi who had been elected
to the Lok Sabha from Amethi, none of remaining two sons had any
political ambition. Suresh Ram had refused a seat in the Rajya Sabha
when Janata Party was in power.
Similarly, Kanti Desai never dabbled into politics
despite powerful backing from his father. Instead, Kanti decided
to run his own business in Mumbai, which Morarji Desai's detractors
said was flourishing because of his father's grace. Long live the
fathers and not to forget the mother!