ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Resilience of Dynastic Politics

Dynastic politics rules because it is the best way to practise the politics of patronage.

The victory of Dimple Yadav, wife of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, in the Lok Sabha by-elections in Kannauj was surprising only for the process – the candidate was elected unopposed. For a state which saw a large number of parties in the fray in the recent assembly polls and which witnessed a closely-fought election between four major parties in many constituencies, an uncontested election for the Lok Sabha should be an aberration. Yet it made perfect sense for the SP’s main competitors – the Bahujan ­Samaj Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) – not to waste any resources fielding a candidate against Dimple Yadav who was sure to win. After all, she was contesting a seat that had been vacated by her husband after he became chief ­minister of the state.

What explains this certainty that dynastic succession will ­attract support at the polls? An interesting analysis of the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 done by Patrick French in his 2010 book India – A Potrait revealed that close to one-third of the elected Members of Parliament (MPs) in the current Lok Sabha have a hereditary/family background in politics. All young MPs below the age of 30 and most below the age of 40 are from such a background. Family connections in politics are characteristic of MPs from most ­parties – more common in regional parties than in national ones although the Congress Party has the ­highest incidence of such a background and the number is parti­cularly high in the northern states. What explains the ­resilience of ­dynastic politics across regions, states and parties in the country – barring the communist parties to a large extent and theBJP to some extent?

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