Tuesday, April 21, 2009

India 9: More Dynasty

Indira Gandhi, who was prime minister of India, on and off, from 1966 until her assassination in 1984, had two sons. The elder son, Rajiv, succeeded Indira as prime minister in 1984, served until 1989, and was assassinated in 1991. The younger son, Sanjay, was a controversial adviser to Indira during the 1970s, and died in a plane crash in 1980.

Rahul Gandhi, 38, is the son of Rajiv Gandhi, and his widow Sonia Gandhi, who is the current leader of the Indian National Congress, the political party of all of the aforementioned Gandhis.

Rahul Gandhi was elected to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's federal parliament, in 2004. There is a widely-held expectation that he will, at some point, succeed his mother as party leader. If that happens, it's possible that he could represent the fourth generation of his family to hold the office of prime minister of India, carrying on the dynasty that began with his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, when India became independent in 1947.

Here is a recent New York Times article about Rahul Gandhi and his role in the current general election.

The whole family must be proudly supporting the young man's ambitions, wouldn't you think? Well, actually, no.

Feroze Varun Gandhi, 29, son of Sanjay Gandhi, is a parliamentary candidate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The New York Times recently reported on a controversy surrounding remarks Varun Gandhi is alleged to have made, fomenting Hindu-Muslim hatred. The BJP is closely aligned with India's Hindu majority, while Congress has always had a more secular orientation.

Varun Gandhi was subsequently freed from prison, at least temporarily.

Apparently, Varun is not as prominent in his party as Rahul is in his. But, with both of those cousins in high-profile roles in their respective parties, there is a chance that the dynasty will be carried forward, regardless of the outcome of this election.

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