The Congress party has always been facing criticism, and rightly so, for encouraging ‘dystic politics’ in the country. It all started with Jawaharlal Nehru promoting daughter Indira Gandhi, who, in turn, picked son Sanjay Gandhi to step into her shoes. He did, turned controversial, but met with an untimely death. Rajiv Gandhi took up the responsibility of becoming prime minister under extraordiry circumstances, but the power of the ‘dysty’ was felt, rather strongly, when his wife Sonia was chosen to head the Congress after his assassition. Then we have seen Rahul Gandhi rise rapidly within the party, coming to occupy the Number 2 position as the Congress vice-president, and making it clear that ‘dysty’ is what matters.
In poll-bound Assam, the monopoly of promoting or keeping up the ‘tradition’ of ‘dystic politics’ does not rest with the Congress alone. True, octogerian chief minister Tarun Gogoi, Assam’s topmost Congress leader, has succeeded in propelling his son Gaurav Gogoi to the political centre-stage in the State. Gaurav, young and well-educated, easily secured nomition from the Congress party to contest the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, making his debut as an MP from Kaliabor, in central Assam. The question is would another young and educated man like him have got the Congress ticket so easily to contest the Lok Sabha polls without cutting his or her teeth in the hurly-burly world of local politics? Well, some State Congress leaders like Chandan Sarkar perhaps sought to test the waters when he said a few months ago that Gaurav Gogoi is more than fit to be the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate in Assam. Tarun Gogoi was, of course, forced to reject the idea so as not to antagonise the hopefuls within the Assam Congress for the hot seat.
Before I come back to take a look at the family members of Congress MLAs or leaders contesting the Assembly polls this time, let us see which are some of the candidates from other parties who fall in the bracket of pursuing ‘dystic politics’. Topping the chart is the AIUDF, a party formed only in 2005. In the past one decade that the AIUDF has been in existence, its president Maula Badruddin Ajmal had brought in three other members of his immediate family into politics. This has been a drastic change of course for all of them, including him, from their core business which is perfumery. Maula Ajmal and his younger brother Sirajuddin won the Assembly polls in 2006. In 2009, Maula Ajmal won the Dhubri Lok Sabha seat. His older son Maula Abdul Rehman won the Assembly seat vacated by Maula Ajmal after his entry into the Lok Sabha. In 2014, when Sirajuddin, won the Barpeta Lok Sabha seat, Maula Ajmal fielded his younger son Maula Abdul Rahim Ajmal to contest the Assembly by-election. He won. This time round, Maula Ajmal is himself contesting the seat from where his older son was elected in 2011. This means, one of his four immediate family members would be out of the electoral race this time. One of the reasons for this could be the murmurs of dissent within the party. The second reason, of course, is that Maula Ajmal would be at hand as an MLA to engage in active political manoeuvring in case the AIUDF gets an opportunity to side with the Congress and form the next government.
The BJP became visible in State politics in 2006 when it maged to win ten Assembly seats. The tally declined to five in 2011. This suggests that the BJP in Assam is a fairly new phenomenon and therefore ‘dystic politics’ is not something that is significant as of now. But, this time, the BJP showed signs that it is also not immune from this political phenomenon. Senior Assam BJP leader and party’s Lok Sabha MP from Guwahati Bijoya Chakrabarty’s daughter Suman Haripriya has bagged the party ticket to contest the Hajo Assembly seat, on the outskirts of the city. The murmur over this, of course, is feeble thus far.
Now back to the Congress’ list of candidates for the April 4 and 11 Assembly polls in Assam that has lots of family members of sitting MLAs or leaders. There is Gautam Roy and his son Rahul in Barak Valley who are candidates. Others who have got tickets include Paban Singh Ghatowar (replacing wife Jibontara), Bithika Dev (mother of Lok Sabha MP Susmita Dev and wife of veteran Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev), Roseli Tirkey (daughter of sitting MLA Aklias Tirkey), Angkita Dutta (daughter of sitting MLA and PCC president Anjan Dutta), Nirmal Langthasa (son of veteran Congress leader Gobinda Chandra Langthasa) and several others. The ‘virus’ of ‘dystic politics’ is spreading and is showing signs it is there to stay in Assam.