Hypocrisy on dynastic politics: Modi’s BJP has its own political families

Modi Queen Elizabeth

Modi hates and targets Nehru and his dynasty, but emulates them by continuing in Commonwealth: Modi with British Queen Elizabeth II, its figurehead, during Commonwealth Summit, London, in April 2018. He attended a related meet also on Feb 3,2024.The Queen suggested her son Prince Charles as next head of Commonwealth, and he is accepted, also by Modi. ( PTI, April 19, 2018).  He claims of decolonization, but hails it as a “unique institution” and supports its “core values.” He detests only the Mughal past, and cherishes the old colonial Empire.

The 1949 London Declaration recognized King George VI as Head of the Commonwealth. Following his death, the Commonwealth leaders recognized Queen Elizabeth II in that capacity. And now her son Charles is the Head.  

But to Modi, Nehru dynasty is an anathema. Even here, Modi’s BJP continued, Menaka Gandhi, a former Minister,  and earlier Varun Gandhi, her son, for several terms as MPs.  

In this Part-3 of a four-part article, we expose, among other things, this brazen hypocrisy of BJP, which, notwithstanding its claims, is not an exception to the phenomenon of political families.

We dedicate this article to the memory of victims of Turkman gate atrocities, most of them Muslims, right in the capital city of Delhi. That was part of the dark Emergency of Indira regime.

April 13-20, 1976 was the week of Turkman gate. We pay our homage, marking its anniversary now. See brief reference to that in the later part of this article.

(see Remembering the massacre at Turkman Gate: From a memoir of the Emergency

https://scroll.in/article/1005254/remembering-the-massacre-at-turkman-gate-from-a-memoir-of-the-emergency)

India witnessed the Turkman gate demolitions and massacre, led by Indira Gandhi’s notorious son Sanjay Gandhi, then called an extra-constitutional authority, wherein hundreds of houses, allegedly illegal dwellings, were demolished. Around 12 bulldozers were deployed, and now Modi-led BJP revived them with impunity. Around 400 people, most of them Muslims, were then killed, as per unofficial estimates.

The Emergency atrocities, and the dormant but deep protest against that, finally led to one of the biggest routs of Indira-led congress in 1977 elections. Janata party government- a sort of post-poll coalition- emerged: in fact the party took formal shape and Morarji Desai emerged as the PM only after the polls. A somewhat similar situation prevails today.        


It is a tragedy that Turkman gate is sought to be erased from public memory, even by the ‘secularists’ and democrats.

It is merely Nehrus-Gandhis, whom Modi hates and targets, but several dynasties, old and new, across India wield their clout in certain territories.BJP has its own share of them. 

Such dynasties include, to cite only a few examples, those of Charan Singh, Devi Lal, Scindias, Mulayam Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Badals, Deve Gowda’s, Karunanidhis, MGR-Jayalalita, NTR’s,  Pawars, Thakres, Patnaiks, Abdullahs, Paswans, G Venkata Swamis, the last two being of dalits.

Said Ambedkar: That is inherent in parliamentary democracy, more so in India. It is merely a super structure, built on semi-feudal, semi-colonial foundations. 

“Parliamentary Democracy, notwithstanding the paraphernalia of a popular government, is in reality a government of a hereditary subject class by a hereditary ruling class. It is a dismal failure”, because it “has not fulfilled the hope it held out to the common man of ensuring him liberty, property and pursuit of happiness”. (See Part-2 of this article).

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BJP itself flaunts several dynasties, and allies with others’ dynasties too

Modi said the main aim of this election is to defeat dynastic rule.His practice is otherwise, cultivating several dynasties as as part of BJP, and abducting and buying over some dynasties as BJP’s allies.      

 Even as phase 1 (out of 7 in all) of Lok sabha polls was about to begin, the (HT) hindustantimes.com, Apr 10, 2024, reported: 

Thus far, 87 of the 424 candidates named by the BJP are from political families as against 65 of the 250 named by the Congress. For the purpose of this analysis, HT defined a political family as one where either a grandparent, parent, or elder sibling was or is an elected or nominated member of Parliament or a state assembly, or held a key post in a political party. The list includes some recognisable scions of political families..”

PM Narendra Modi speaks of his commitment to end parivar vad, rule by political families, a fact of Indian model of  democracy, wherein the mere electoral ritual is equated with democracy itself. We have seen in Part-1 how India’s is a “Constitutional autocracy”, as summed up by DV Rao, veteran revolutionary of Telangana peasant armed struggle (1946-51), and an MP of 1957-62.

Modi in his latest Newsweek(April 10, 2024) interview said: “We are a democracy, not only because our Constitution says so, but also because it is in our genes. India is the mother of democracy..”

But Modi should know genes are related to heredity, and hereditary ruling class families are inseparable from that!

While he opposed parivar vad, it is Modi, the mortal individual, who gives “guarantees” for a period until 2047! The BJP titled its election Manifesto, Modi guarantees.

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagavat openly, and several times, castigated personality cult, but to no effect. Now the BJP hails Brand Modi, and market him.BJP veteran LK Advani, a belated Bharat Ratna, in April 2014, described Modi as a ‘brilliant events manager” ( Deccan Herald, 2021, Sep17).

The pot calls the kettle black : Now that the BJP is bracketed with others in this respect, some rationalization is sought to be made. The HT  report adds:  

“ The presence of a large number of people from political families in the BJP’s list does not surprise analysts for two reasons. One, the party has always focused on what it calls winnability” (we may add, others also have that as an excuse).

“ Two, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified in Parliament that there is nothing wrong with candidates who choose to follow in their elders’ footsteps. He said that the BJP was simply opposed to political power being centered around a single family,” read Nehru-Gandhis’.  

BJP promises Ram rajya, wherein Bharata, youngest of four brothers, carries the rule for 14 years by keeping Rama’s footwear on the throne, when Rama was away in jungles.  The eldest of the family is entitled to be the ruler in India’s patriarchy, and even his chappals are throne- worthy, as per Ram Rajya tradition, promoted by BJP. 

The First war of India’s Independence of 1857 had its martyr heroine in Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, who was fighting for her successor, adopted son Damodar Rao then aged 8, to be made the king. But East India Company’s Doctrine of Lapse did not allow that. Jhansi rani laid down her life for succession of her son. She is one of our icons of freedom struggle. Still, objectively the battles waged by a section of feudals were deemed as part of the anti-colonial struggle, with all its contradictions. A Report that traced the queen’s successors said: 

“ Following the supreme sacrifice of Laxmibai, her adopted son Damodar Rao spent 46 years in Indore under the custody of British rulers”, with a pension paid by the British.  

A successor of the family said,Later, on recommendation of the King of Jhalawad Estate Prithwi Singh, British Resident Officer Sir Robert Hamilton agreed to give shelter to Prince Damodar Rao. In 1860, the prince was allowed to live in exile under the watchful eyes of British soldiers in a house of Residency Area of Indore. He was granted a fixed annual pension of Rs 10,000Damador Rao breathed his last on May 20, 1906 at the age of 57, leaving behind his son Laxman Rao Jhansiwale, who was given a pension of Rs 200 per month by the Britishers.” (Free Press Journal, 2022, August 23) 

https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/unsung-saga-of-rani-laxmibais-descendants-living-as-commoners-indore-gives-shelter-but-nation-forgets

The tradition is kept up: Vasundhara Raje Scindia (born 1953), daughter of Gwalior royals, is a Vice president of BJP, and was a two-term BJP Chief Minister of Rajasthan, and a Union Minister in Vajpayee cabinet. Now aged 70, she was not given the opportunity to become CM for a third time. Unhappy about it, she is active only to help her son Dushyant Singh of BJP, to become an MP for the fifth time member of Parliament.

The British, and later the Indian rulers – Nehru and Patel – did not abandon the feudals: They were given pensions and priviliges for decades, until Indira Gandhi abolished them. BJP’s Vajpayee in parliament opposed her decision.

Of course, all major parties accommodated them in their new avatars as Ministers, and legislators, with huge incomes and perks, higher than as kings. Yes, India is fond of its hereditary ruling classes. Mysore Maharaja (now in BJP) of Wadiar dynasty, like scores across India, is a candidate in the current elections. Rajasthan, Odisha, Gujarat have them in good numbers.   

Thus Modi and BJP have allergy only for Nehrus. But even there, they accommodated for long Menaka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi, from the same dynasty, as noted above. Such is the hypocrisy of Modi-led BJP.         

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Modi slams Nehru and his dynasty, but emulates them in many respects

It is a long list, but we mention below only a few important features. They show how Modi’s anti-dynasty rhetoric is only for public consumption. 

“ After achieving independence, India was the first of a number of countries which decided that, although they wished to become republics, they still wanted to remain within the Commonwealth,” says a related website of Commonwealth.

It was Nehru regime that took the decision. And Modi continues it, and “both countries decided to deepen ties”, reported PTI from London, in 2018. BJP’s rantings are more about Mughals, but Modi is comfortable with imperialist masters.

Nehru suppressed Kashmir, incarcerated Sheik Abdullah for over a decade. Indira continued the policy, and Congress regimes, Indira Gandhi included, killed over 70,000 civilians there, rigged and stalled elections there. Modi carried forward that legacy and policy of suppression, and dismembered J&K.

Nehru-Indira dismissed state governments, EMS Ministry of 1967 being an earliest major victim. Article 356 was used more than 100 times, mostly by Congress. Modi continues that policy of negating states’ rights.

Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency (1975-76), and pre-censorship of media. With setbacks, she later resorted to undeclared emergency, which Modi emulates. With ostensibly self-censorship, India’s ranking in World Media Freedom Index is notoriously low, 161 out of 180, increasingly so under Modi: Several media persons were killed, maimed, and imprisoned. 

Demolitions and massacres by Congress emulated by Modi’s BJP

Indira’s Emergency witnessed the Turkman gate demolitions and massacre, led by her notorious son Sanjay Gandhi,  wherein hundreds of houses, allegedly illegal dwellings, were demolished by around 12 bulldozers. Forced sterilizations were conducted on hundreds who were herded by police. The news was known not through Indian media, clamped with censorship, but through BBC. Foreign media alleged the massacre involved around 400 killings (see scroll.in, 2021, sep 14, for a memoir). In all these ghastly incidents, most of the victims were Muslims. (April 13-20, 1976 was the week of Turkman gate. We pay our homage, marking its anniversary now.) 

Congress party used Muslims more as vote banks, and their plight remained worse than that of dalits. Still BJP blamed they were pampered by Congress with its so-called appeasement policy.  Justice Rajinder Sachar committee, 2006, made several recommendations, most of which remained on paper.

Modi’s BJP emulated them, and bulldozers were back in action in a systematic way, Muslims being the main targets. Being recent and current, lot has been written about it.

Modi-led BJP advanced over Congress, which treated them as second-rate citizens, and reduced them into third-rate citizens.

BJP is one party that allotted, in 2014, not a single Loksabha seat to Muslims, who are around 180 millions in numbers, and comprise of 14-15 percent of India’s population. After 2022 July, when Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was dropped from Union cabinet,not a single legislator (MP or MLA) remains as a representative of BJP out of 4908 seats across India. (the wire, 2022, July 7). Still Modi claims Sab ka sath…

There are Muslims reconciled to Hindutva politics under Modi, and they feel it is inevitable and safer to do so.

Massacres of Sikhs (following Indira’s assassination by Sikh guards) by secular Congress, and massacre of Muslims by communal BJP, both with State complicity and impunity, involving thousands of deaths in each of them, are too notorious to be retold.

Neither Congress nor BJP ever seriously apologized for their heinous crimes. Manifestos of Congress and BJP, both swore on the Constitution, both showered welfare promises, but made no serious self criticism for their autocratic practices.Neither made any specific commitments regarding Black laws, like UAPA, deploying army to suppress civilians. 

Congress speaks of Modi’s fascism, but makes no serious commitments in its manifesto.

 Modi frequently mentions Emergency (1975-76), but never regretted fascist attitudes and actions by his own regime.

Elections offer no real choice to people, who are asked to change their oppressive masters, who have little if any difference in their policies and practices. Elections are more a device to settle the conflicts among ruling classes, and to decide who should preside over the system of loot and oppression. Fascism can not bee defeated through mere elections. And it is not confined to BJP or Modi. There are autocrats aplenty in non-BJP parties too.  

Indira promised Garibi Hatao (Removal of poverty) to cover up her autocracy. Five decades later, and ten years after his own rule, Modi and BJP claimed they abolished eradication of “extreme poverty” but still promised they would guarantee supply of 5kg of cereals per head free of cost, for 800 million people for five years to come. 

Indira Gandhi was known for her undermining, and also misusing, all institutions from CBI to (committed) judiciary to (pliable) Election Commission, not to speak of her own party committees. Modi emulates and excels her in every respect.

Indira is India, and vice versa, it was said those days of authoritarianism. She declared Emergency without prior consultation in the cabinet. Now that is equally true for Modi, and his decisions like demonetization and Farmers’ Bills and their withdrawal. War and peace, most crucial, had nothing do with parliament, or the cabinet, then or now. 

Modi emulates Congress in expansionism, and in being a junior partner of super powers 

Nehru initiated the policy of cartographic aggression against China, unleashed the failed Forward Policy, as narrated by Avatar singh, Director of History Department of India’s Foreign Ministry. Modi planned a second edition of the Forward Policy, and failed, like Nehru.

(See related articles, eg., India-China War At 60 : A Review

https://countercurrents.org/2022/12/india-china-war-at-60-a-review/)

Indira regime dismembered Pakistan and annexed Sikkim. Rajiv Gandhi sent IPKF to Srilanka. Congress regimes blockaded Nepal, bossed over the foreign policies of Nepal and Bhutan. Modi emulates Congress in expansionism, bullies Pakistan, Srilanka, Maldives, and is committed on unfinished tasks of expansionism. Both of them relied on Super powers of the day for their regional hegemonism.   

Congress and BJP trading charges against each other, both serving USA and its Asia Pacific strategy. The idea of QUAD against China was mooted in 2007, as an arm to serve imperialist interests, and Congress joined hands with them. Modi continued it and aligned with USA closer than ever.  

Thus Modi slams Nehru and his dynasty, but emulates them in many respects. His mission is to replace them. Nehru was PM for 18 years (including as provisional PM since 1946), and died in office. Modi wants to out-beat Nehru.

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BJP’s own Dynastic politics

PM Modi on Feb 5, 2024 said in Lok Sabha : “Which dynastic politics do we talk about? If more than one person in a family, on their own strength and with the support of public, makes progress in the political field, we have never called it dynastic politics. We call it dynastic politics when a party is run by a family, when the party prioritises members of a family, when family members take all the important decisions of the party,” the Prime Minister said. (timesofindia.com, Feb 5, 2024)

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/we-call-it-dynastic-politics-when-pm-modis-big-attack-on-parties-run-by-families/articleshow/107431615.cms

The coming parliamentary election, Modi asserts, is meant to defeat political dynasties that controlled India for decades. It is a fact that they control India, steered from behind by Big Business families, like those of Ambanis Tatas Birlas Adanis. They in turn are allied with and subservient to imperialists, who support all feudals and dynasties, not only in the Gulf-Saudi, but also in India. But Modi hides another fact that BJP has such leaders aplenty, in various states and also in Union cabinet.

It is true that many parties in India, except communists, are run accordingly: CPM’s CC over-ruled Jyoti Basu accepting PM’s office offered during UF days. BJP also once had some such reputation, but no more. Now it is not a family, but a small cabal, led by Modi-Shah,that runs BJP and the its government, as vouched by many BJP insiders. Latest BJP Manifesto, 2024, has been titled Modi’s Gurantee, and it is valid upto 2047!   

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BJP’s founder was from Scindia feudal dynasty, of 5G type 

Modi speaks of ‘4G and 5G’, and clarifies he means, not the Mobile phones, but  political dynasties of  4-5 generations. He mentions Nehru dynasty, but avoids those with BJP, like Scindias. BJP has its own 4G and 5G dynasties, and has been busy, desperately wooing such others’  dynasties who may or may not agree with Hindutva.

Modi Scindia

Modi acknowledges the role of Scindias in BJP, and Indian politics. Former PM Vajpayee and former Union Minister MM Joshi are also seen in the photo.

 Despite claims of ‘400 plus’ seats, for public consumption, Modi-led BJP  has its own doubts, and so is out to woo any dynasty that may help BJP.

The Nehru dynasty is well known. BJP’s dynasties are less discussed. We will sample one: Most prominent among such political dynasties is Ms. Vijaya Raje Scindia (12 October 1919 – 25 January 2001), of 5G category as per Modi. Known popularly as the Rajmata of Gwalior in India, she was one of the founding members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and of BJP, its later incarnation. She had Nepali Royal ancestry, married  Jivajirao Scindia, Maharaja of Gwalior, and headed a prominent Indian political dynasty.

Jivajirao (1916-61), Maharaja of Gwalior, had a political role since Constituent Assembly days, and was a key feudal who mobilized other princes and zamindars of Central India, and negotiated with the Union for merger into MP, and into India, on favorable terms (VP Menon, a key architect of Indian princely states).

Mrs. Vijaya Raje, his widow, was a Founder Member and Vice president of BJP, and like most feudals, she was a turn-coat who was elected repeatedly to both houses of the Indian parliament, on Congress as well as saffron tickets of Jansangh and later of BJP. She lost to Indira Gandhi in Rae Bareli in 1980.

The couple had four daughters and a son, and most of them held political offices, at the Centre, in MP, Rajasthan and elsewhere. Prominent among them was her son Madhavrao Scindia (1945–2001), a nine-term member of the Lok Sabha. He was also a turn-coat, switched between Congress and BJP, and was a Union Minister.

Madhavrao  is the father of Jyotiraditya Scindia, a leader and a minister, both in BJP and Congress, and of  Ms Chitrangada Raje, married to the politician (MLC) Vikramaditya Singh of Kashmir Royalty, including Raja Hari Singh, and Karan Singh, a key politician and  former Union Minister.  

Vasundhara Raje (born 1953), daughter of Rajmata, is a BJP politician and a two-term Chief Minister of Rajasthan, and a Union Minister in Vajpayee cabinet.  She has one son Dushyant Singh, in BJP, who is a four-time member of Parliament. Yashodhara Raje Scindia, her sister, is a former Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

Usha Raje Rana (born 1943), who wed Pashupati Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana of the Rana dynastyNepalese politician and grandson of the last Maharajah of Nepal. They are the parents of Devyani Rana and Urvashi Rana.

The family had marriage links with  feudals cum political leaders of Nepal (Rana dynasty etc), Kashmir (Hari singh and Karan singh) and Tripura, and Indian ruling classes meddled in politics there.

Deb Barmans, close relatives of Scindias, are Tripura feudals who facilitated the defeat of the Left, and now Tripura BJP fielded a candidate from the family. Tipra Motha Party (TMP) had a role in all this. BJP meddling with Nepal – they applied pressure,  opposed secularism and sought to make it a Hindu State – was also through such feudal connections.

Part-4 will discuss how BJP is desperately wooing dynasties to make a mark in the South

***                            ***

(Ramakrishnan is a political observer who contributed to countercurrents.org)

For more on the subject, read:

The ruling classes and their parties are out to sustain, though in vain, the dubious democratic credentials of the system. Quite often even Modi and BJP seek to invoke Ambedkar only to embellish and laud to the skies the so-called biggest democracy India has, which in fact is a Constitutional autocracy, and an ornamental parliamentary democracy, as seen in Part-1 and 2 of this article, respectively. 

Indian democracy is anything but democratic for so many reasons, despite all such claims and vows, which we discussed in Part-1 of this article. 

See Part-1 here:

India’s is a ‘constitutional autocracy’ : Hereditary ruling classes are inherent in India, said Ambedkar (17/04/2024)

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/indias-is-a-constitutional-autocracy-hereditary-ruling-classes-are-inherent-in-india-said-ambedkar

Democracy is not meant to be a one day affair, as it is in India, the day polling takes place. It is missing in daily life, political, economic, or cultural. India has merely a formal democracy founded on semi-feudal, and semi-colonial foundations, experience of decades tells us.

 “There is a great need of someone with sufficient courage to tell Indians – beware of Parliamentary Democracy, it is not the best product, as it appeared to be,” said Ambedkar, in 1943.  Parliamentary democracy in India is more ornamental.

See in Part-2 here:

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/beware-of-parliamentary-democracy-warned-ambedkar-and-added-hereditary-ruling-classes-are-inherent-in-it

There is lot of anxiety about the future of the Constitution if BJP is back in power. What’s the present state?

See DV Rao’s assessment of India’s  Indian Constitutional System, as a Constitutional autocracy, in this article:

https://countercurrents.org/2021/01/dv-rao-on-constitutional-system/)

Democracy is not meant to be a one day affair, as it is in India, the day polling takes place. It is missing in daily life, political, economic, or cultural.

(See also  Ambedkar And Parliamentary Democracy, on 14 April, 2016, by Countercurrents.org.

See:  https://countercurrents.org/sharma140416.htm)

Elections are no panacea, more so now when EC itself is under duress. This phenomenon of a subservient EC also had its roots in the past. There was a brief interlude with TN Seshan as the CEC. But it took not much time to circumvent hurdles. Now few create any hurdles to Modi regime.  

The Election Commission has been a pliant and tainted machinery, more so in Modi regime. EAS Sarma, former Secretary of Union Govt, exposed in a series of letters:

(see for eg: Election Commission’s assurance to conduct “One Nation, One Election” casts doubts about its independence.

https://countercurrents.org/2023/09/election-commissions-assurance-to-conduct-one-nation-one-election-casts-doubts-about-its-independence

The EC winks even as Modi and BJP brazenly exploit religion, god, and all primordial instincts, he wrote.

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