If politics is a game of power, than no one is ready to pass on the baton other than to his own family, has exactly become evident in Jammu and Kashmir, India this election season. The state has turned into a hotbed for dynasty raj with several sons, daughters and kin of powerful politicians all set to contest the assembly elections- many of them making maiden tryst with destiny.
A close analysis revealed that around 15 sons and nephews of political leaders have joined fray in this election by securing party mandates on the basis of their family background.
Shockingly, the strong outburst against the Dynasty Raj by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, notwithstanding, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has apparently relaxed its tough stand for the party’s J&K president, Jugal Kishore Sharma, who has handed over the baton of Nagrota candidature to his brother Nand Kishore.
The party high command has already put its seal of approval leaving many party contenders, including Dogra Royal family scion, Ajat Shatru Singh to fend for themselves.
Ajat had recently relinquished his MLC seat on NC nomination and left the party to join BJP.
Even as speculations were rife that Ajat would get BJP mandate, the party preferred Nand Kishore Sharma reportedly after the MP and state president Jugal Kishore Sharma build pressure for his candidature.
Party insiders told that Jugal Kishore has played significant role in grabbing mandate for his brother Nand Kishore, who is supposedly a ‘naïve’ in politics without having much following.
Political observers said that BJP has reserved ‘dynasty raj’ as a strong offensive to attack National Conference and People’s Democratic Party during the assembly election campaign, however, the party has itself deviated and followed the line of other dynastic parties of the state.
Nanad Kishore will make his political debut in upcoming polls as by the influence of his brother Jugal Kishore he got the mandate from Nagrota constituency, party insiders said.
They added that BJP has two experienced candidates including Chander Mohan Sharma and Ajatshatru from Nagrota assembly segment, but the party has decided to file fresher Nand Kishore.
They added that Chander Mohan Sharma was a senior worker associated with the party for last many years.
Dropping of Chander Mohan Sharma has evoked strong resentment among his supporters. Similarly, Ajatshatru, who joined BJP early this month, has represented the constituency on National Conference after his win in 1996 elections.
BJP spokesperson Arun Gupta said that the party has given mandate to Nand Kishore after noticing his work.
“Nand Kishore is known in the party due to his work not as a brother of MP Jugal Kishore” Gupta said.
Apart from BJP, many dynastic politicians are making debut in the politics through these elections, while others have already made their mark.
The politician sons, daughters and nephews, who would make political debut in this election, are Salman Anees Soz son of JKPCC chief, Prof Saifudin Soz. Anees , Javaid Beigh, nephew of Member of Parliament (MP) Muzaffar Hessian Beigh. Both of them are contesting from Baramulla segment.
Two sons of former deputy Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Mangat Ram Sharma, Subhash Sharma and Rajneesh Sharma, are also ready to make debut in politics.
Interestingly, while Mangat Ram Sharma quit Congress party to join PDP, his two sons are contesting elections on the mandate of two different parties.
Elder son Subhash is People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate from Kathua assembly segment, while Rajneesh is the Congress candidate from Bani, represented by his father thrice.
Another politician son trying his luck this election season is Vikram Mahlotra son of senior Congress leader and Chairman of Legislative Council, Amrit Mahlotra. Vikram is seeking election on Congress ticket from Jammu east constituency.
Dr Hina Bhat, who is being projected by BJP as its face in Kashmir Valley, is contesting from Amira Kadal, nonetheless being daughter of Mohammad Shafi Bhat, one time National Conference (NC) legislator and now a Congress leader.
Others have inherited the political legacy of their family include Akram Choudary, son of former minister and CLP leader Mohammad Aslam Choudary. He is candidate from Surankote.
Aziz Munshi, son of former minister Munshi Habibullah, he is BJP candidate from Kargil, NC candidate from Duroo Farooq Ahmed Gania is son of former minister Mohammad Akbar Gania , Nazeer Ahmad Khan son of former minister Sarfraz Khan is Congress candidate from Beerwah Budgam, Manzoor Ahmad Zargar son of former PDP Minister Aziz Zargar. Manzoor has joined Congress and the party has fielded him from Noorabad constituency.
Likewise, Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar, son of former minister Sheikh Jabbar, a close associate of National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah is contesting on NC ticket from Ganderbal. Ishfaq had initially joined Congress, but is now contesting on National Conference ticket and has replaced Omar Abdullah from Ganderbal.
However the dynastic raj in Jammu and Kashmir has flourished utmost in strongest political families of the state, Abdullahs and Mufties with the former having already produced two generations of politicians, Ministers and Chief Ministers. Omar Abdullah, present Chief Minister had in his family two chief Ministers, his grandfather, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Father Farooq Abdullah, besides many uncles as Ministers and politicians.
Omar joined politics in 1998, as a Lok Sabha member and he took on the mantle of National Conference from his father in 2002.
Though he faced defeat from Ganderbal during 2002 state assembly elections, four years later, he contested once again from the same seat and won in the 2008.
Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed is the daughter of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
In 1996, assembly elections Mehbooba became one of the most popular members – elected from Bijbehara on an Indian National Congress ticket.
Mehbooba Mufti was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha (2004-2009), representing the Anantnag constituency of Jammu and Kashmir. Her party, PDP, failed to win a single seat in Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and she did not contest that year herself. But in 2014, she was elected again to Lok Sabha from Anantnag constituency.
By: Abhinav Verma