By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, April 5 (IANS) All politicians in Maharashtra love to call its 12-crore people a ‘family’.
No wonder, since politics runs in the families of all major clans in the state, some in the fourth and many in the third and second generations, with a belief that every time you cross any of the state’s 36 districts, you enter the domain a local political clan.
Unlike the general impression, these families encompass the entire state political spectrum in different parties and geographical regions.
Many have worked their way hard up, some have basked in the glory of the family names/surnames, others acquired it through the hereditary route, but many of the so-called ‘political dynasties’ are here to stay.
Starting with the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is the son of senior Jana Sangh leader and legislator Gangadharrao Gadgil, while his aunt, Shobha Fadnavis was a legislator.
The ruling ally Shiv Sena, founded by the late Bal Thackeray, is now headed by second generation Uddhav Thackeray, and his son Aditya Uddhav Thackeray is being groomed for a prospective takeover in the future.
There’s his cousin, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, besides their political uncles like the late Ramesh Thackeray and cousin Shalini Thackeray, with the likelihood of Raj’s son Amit stepping into his dad’s shoes.
On the Congress front, the fourth generation Vikhe-Patil family of Ahmednagar rules the roost there since decades, starting with Vithalrao Vikhe-Patil who set up Asia’s first cooperative sugar factory.
His son, Enkathrao alias Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil, was a union minister in the NDA-I government. His sons include Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, the Leader of Opposition, whose son Sujay is now an upcoming politician.
Two other sons of Balasaheb are Rajendra Vikhe-Patil and leading academician and educationist Ashok Vikhe-Patil, whose daughter Nila is the political advisor to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.
The Nationalist Congress Party is headed by ex-Congressman Sharad Pawar and is now into the third generation, with his daughter Supriya Sule, a MP from Baramati and his younger brother Pratap a media baron heading the Sakal Papers Pvt. Ltd.
Pawar’s elder brother Anant’s son is the aggressive Ajit Pawar, a former Deputy Chief Minister, whose son Parth is now cutting his political teeth as the NCP candidate from Madha.
The hereditary mantle is carried by descendents of Chhatrapatis – primarily the two branches of Satara and Kolhapur royal families, besides the Phaltan royal family – with many in today’s politics.
Prominent among them is NCP MP Chhatrapati Udayanraje Bhosale, the 13th direct descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (Satara), founder of the Maratha empire nearly 450 years ago, and a relative, Shivendra Raje Bhosale, who is a legislator.
Another descendent is Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje (Kolhapur), who is a BJP MP.
There’s the Naik-Nimbalkars who were the ‘Maika’ of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s first wife, Queen Saeebai, and their descendent is Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar, who is presently a legislator and Chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.
The family of B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, also has prominent politicians, including Yeshwant Ambedkar, founder of the Republican Party of India and an ex-legislator, whose sons are former MP Prakash Ambedkar and Republican Sena President Anandraj Ambedkar.
Their brother-in-law is civil rights activist Prof. Anand Teltumbde, who shot to the national headlines after he was arrested in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima caste riots of January 1, 2017.
There are other important families who have notched their presence in state and national politics.
There was the late union minister Sunil Dutt and his daughter Priya Dutt, a former MP and now contesting the 2019 elections.
Then there was the late union minister Pramod Mahajan, and his daughter Poonam Mahajan, now a BJP MP; his brother-in-law and late union minister Gopinath Munde, daughters Pankaja Munde, a state minister, and Pritam Munde, a BJP MP.
Munde’s nephew is Dhananjay Munde, Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, who was formerly with the BJP and is now with the NCP.
From Sangli, there is famed Patil family of Vasantrao alias Vasantdada Patil, a former Chief Minister and Governor; wife Shalinitai was MP and state minister; son Prakashbapu was an MP; grandson Pratik was a union minister and another grandson, Vishal, is now contesting on a Shetkari Swabhimani Sanghatana ticket from Sangli.
The Chavans of Nanded are also an important family. There was the stern Shankarrao B. Chavan, twice Chief Minister and union minister under several Prime Ministers, while his son Ashok is a former Chief Minister and presently an MP and state Congress president.
Another Chavan branch is of the former union minister Dajisaheb R. Chavan, whose wife Premalatia was a MP. Their son Prithviraj Chavan is a former union minister and ex-Chief Minister.
Mumbai’s famed former union minister Murli S. Deora’s son Milind Deora is an ex-union minister of state, MP and now Mumbai Congress President.
Latur’s Deshmukh family comprises former union minister and ex-Chief Minister Vilasrao D. Deshmukh, whose son is AICC Secretary Amit Deshmukh. Vilasrao’s younger brother is legislator and former minister Diliprao D. Deshmukh.
Solapur’s policeman-turned-politician is the the soft-spoken Sushilkumar Shinde, who is a former union minister. His daughter Praniti Shinde is a legislator.
Raigad strongman, former union minister Abdul Rehman Antulay, created history as the state’s first Muslim Chief Minister, whose legacy is carried forward by his son Naved, who recently joined the Shiv Sena, besides nephew-cum-son-in-law Mushtaq Antulay.
Sindhudurg’s former Shiv Sena chief minister and ex-Congress leader, Maharashtra Swabhiman Party founder Narayan Rane is now a MP and his sons Nitesh and Nilesh are in the legislature and parliament.
From Nashik hails the Bhujbal family, with Chhagan Bhujbal who was an NCP Deputy Chief Minister. His son Pankaj is a legislator and nephew Sameer Magan Bhujbal is a ex-MP.
Sangli has another important family of the late NCP Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil. His widow Suman is a legislator and elder daughter Smita an upcoming youth activist spearheading various campaigns.
Another former Deputy Chief Minister and NCP MP is Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, whose son Ranjitsingh, a former MP, joined the BJP last month.
(Quaid Najmi can be reached at [email protected])