THE BJP has often accused the Congress of foisting “namdaar” politics on the country. But here’s the irony: most of the ruling party’s imports in Maharashtra are dynasts.
Sources in the BJP said that the poaching trend shows that despite all its successes, the party still needed established political dynasties of the old regime to retain its position of strength.
Consider this. In March this year, Sujay Vikhe-Patil, now BJP’s MP from Ahmednagar, quit the Congress to join the saffron party. He is a third generation politician belonging to the formidable Vikhe-Patil family, which has a long history of defections.
After Sujay’s win, father Radhakrishna, then Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, was quick to switch over. He is now the housing minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government.
Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat has alleged that the Vikhe-Patils switched sides to satiate their hunger for staying in power. Incidentally, last November, Radhakrishna had labelled the chief minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray as “thugs of Maharashtra”.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil, another third generation politician from Solapur, followed soon after. While his father, Vijaysinh, a former deputy chief minister, is yet to jump ship, he had openly campaigned against his party NCP in the Lok Sabha polls.
Five-time Beed MLA, Jaydutt Kshirsagar, who quit the NCP to become a Shiv Sena minister, and Shivendraraje Bhosale of the NCP, who joined the BJP last week, also hail from established political families. Last week, the BJP had also inducted the sons of two other former ministers — Ganesh Naik and Madhukar Pichad. Naik, originally from the Shiv Sena, has built a personal fiefdom of sorts in Navi Mumbai, having been NCP’s face in the region for several years.
Last week, Fadnavis had himself said that his party had targetted the induction of these second and third generation politicians first. Their families automatically put their might behind the BJP.
Just as both Congress and NCP must introspect why the younger generation of dynasts are going away from them, some BJP old-timers have cautioned that the “menace” of family politics might hurt their own party in the longer run.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has accused “Fadnavis and his team of using coercion tactics and blackmail to poach Opposition leaders”. He said that this has brought the “party system” of Indian politics under threat.
Incidentally, with the Opposition now scouting for new “winnable” candidates to match the might of some of these established turncoats, sources said that the individualistic politics will only grow in the state polls.