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Feuding Families

Indian democracy rests on the one man-one vote principle and Indian elections on the one family-two tickets norm. (Except the Karunakarans w...

Indian democracy rests on the one man-one vote principle and Indian elections on the one family-two tickets norm. (Except the Karunakarans where one family gets three tickets, and the Nehru-Gandhi clan of course, where each member’s birth — or marriage — certificate guarantees a Lok Sabha nomination.)

And when the norm is violated, feuds break out — pitting brother against brother, father against son, husband against wife. Blood may be thicker than water for us ordinary folks, but the glue of political ambition is a lot thicker than the red stuff for our politicos. Here’s the latest list of families divided across party lines:

Giridhar Gamang and Hema Gamang

Marital discord over political affiliations is rare in India. The Gamangs of Orissa have not fallen out over ideology but over the far more mundane concern of getting a ticket to ride into India’s House of Commons. When Giridhar Gamang gave up his Koraput LS seat to get into the Assembly, wife Hema was fielded as his proxy. But when the AICC renominated Hema this time, Giridhar flew into a rage. It worked — the husband has been appeased with the Koraput seat and Hema fobbed off with the Gunupur Assembly constituency. They both remain in the same party but the bitterness runs deep.

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Uma Bharti and Swami Prasad Lodhi

The Madhya Pradesh CM may have donned the saffron robes and declared herself a sanyasin, but family matters continue to dog her. Elder brother Swami Prasad Lodhi brought her up ‘‘like a father’’ but then demanded political favours that she has found difficult to accept and more difficult to refuse. A former MLA, Swami got the BJP nomination for an Assembly seat last December only after threatening to join the Congress. He lost but now wants to fight the Khajuraho Lok Sabha seat. With Uma in no mood to oblige, another sibling war is in the offing.

S Bangarappa and Kumar Bangarappa

It’s father versus son in Karnataka. Former chief minister S Bangarappa, who has deserted the Congress more than once before, did the walkout act once again to join the BJP. Son Kumar, a minister in the S M Krishna Government, did the ‘‘dutiful son’’ bit and followed suit. But his sojourn in saffron land lasted barely a fortnight. Feeling ‘‘suffocated’’ in the BJP (the breathlessness accentuated by the father’s refusal to give him an Assembly ticket), Kumar returned to the Congress fold last week — filial duty be hanged.

Om Prakash Chautala and Randeep Singh

Randeep Singh, the kid brother of INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala, Devi Lal’s heir to the Haryana throne, left the family fief a long time ago, set up a ‘‘breakaway’’ faction, and later joined the Congress. He was back in the news a fortnight ago when he left Congress to join the BJP — days after BJP turfed out Big Brother from the NDA.

Compiled by MANINI CHATTERJEE

First published on: 31-03-2004 at 12:00:00 am
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