While addressing a really in Meerut two days ago, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi appealed to the gathering to ‘Vote for India’ in Lok Sabha elections and free the country from dynasty and nepotism. But what Modi was unaware of is that leaders from his own party in UP, including national president Rajnath Singh, have long been, and still are, promoting their sons, daughters or other family members within the organisation.
Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj was state secretary in the team of former state BJP president Surya Pratap Shahi. He was elevated to the post of general secretary during 2012 Assembly elections, triggering a controversy as three state secretaries had resigned alleging nepotism in the party.
Former chief minister Kalyan Singh’s son, Rajvir, is party’s state vice-president. Rajvir had contested the last Assembly election from Bulandshahr’s Debai seat, but had lost. Similar was the fate of Gopal Tandon, also state vice-president but, and rather importantly, Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon’s son. Gopal had lost from Lucknow seat.
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Anurag Singh, who lost Lok Sabha election from Mirzapur in 2009, and is a strong contender for a ticket in the coming election, is son of former party state president and senior leader Om Prakash Singh. Anurag is in-charge of Modi’s ‘iron collection programme” in the state. Om Prakash himself had lost in the 2012 Assembly election.
Sharad Tripathi, son of former state president Ramapati Ram Tripathi, had lost in 2009 LS election from Sant Kabir Nagar. Sources say that Sharad is among the leading contenders for the ticket from the same seat in the coming LS election. Ramapati, who is head of state election management committee, too, had lost in 2012 Assembly election.
District general secretary of Bareilly, Virendra Gangwar, is brother-in-law of six-time MP Santosh Gangwar. Santosh had lost the 2009 LS election and party has now appointed Virendra as coordinator for Bareilly constituency for LS election.
State secretary Neelima is the daughter of party’s senior leader and former MLA Premlata Katiyar who is currently state executive member.
Among others are state vice-president of BJP youth wing (Yuva Morcha) Vaibhav Singh, who is the son of former MP Satyadev Singh; another state vice-president of the wing, Raghvendra Tiwari, is the son of former MLA and current state executive member Suresh Tiwari; Meerut youth wing president Vivek Bajpai is the nephew of state BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai. Ghaziabad district general secretary Mayank Goyal is the son of party leader and former local mayor Damyanti Goyal who passed away on Monday.
BJP’s senior leader and MLA from Lucknow, Kalraj Mishra’s son Amit has recently been appointed special invitee member in district executive committee.
When Laxmikant Bajpai was made aware of this exhaustive list that closely follows what Modi repeatedly accuses Congress of, he termed the sons and relatives of current and former BJP leaders as “dedicated workers.”
“In other parties such as Congress and SP, all the important position are held by family members or chele (close associates) of those members. In BJP we have dedicated workers,” he said. He also said that Pankaj Singh and Gopal Tandon were active in the party from the time when Rajnath and Lalji Tandon were not national leaders.
During his election rally in Patna in October last year, Modi’s criticism of dynasty politics had circled around his continual use of word ‘shehzade’ for Rahul.
“Congress ke mitra bahut pareshan hai ki Modi shehzade kyon keh rahe hain… Lekin main phuchhta hun ki shehzade kehne ki naubat kyun aai (Congress leaders are worried that Modi is repeatedly calling Rahul a shehzade. I want to know why did the need to call him shehzade come up in the first place?),” Modi had said.
“I will stop calling (Rahul) shehzade if Congress promises to do away with dynastic politics,” Modi apparently said.