Sons of Union ministers and senior party leaders are waiting in the wings to step into their fathers’ shoes as and when chances come by.
The next generation of leaders of the Bihar unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party are getting ready to follow in the footsteps of their fathers, and for a few of them, the 2019 general elections will be the stepping stone into active politics.
The first one off the block is 38-year-old Arijit Shashwat, the son of Union Minister of State (MoS) for Health, Ashwini Choubey, who has already tested the electoral waters, albeit unsuccessfully, when he contested the 2015 Assembly elections on a BJP ticket from Bhagalpur, but was defeated by the JDU-RJD-INC joint candidate. An MBA from Australia, Arijit was in the news in April this year after he was arrested for his alleged role in instigating riots in the region.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Arijit said that he was focusing on creating awareness about the work done by the Narendra Modi government among the youth of Bihar. “We are carrying out a massive jan sampark abhiyan (public relations campaign) in the state, wherein we are reaching out to first-time voters. I am leading the campaign. The objective is to enrol them in the voting list so that they can cast their votes when the time comes,” he said.
“Apart from this, we are also helping young people, who want to start their own ventures, in getting loans under the MUDRA scheme. Unless and until the benefits of the scheme reach the intended beneficiaries, it will be of no use,” he said. “Our team has earned the distinction of enrolling the highest number of new party members (47,600) in the entire country,” he added.
On his alleged role in the riots, Arijit claimed that the case was filed to defame him politically. “The entire (religious) procession was being shown on my Facebook Live. Do you think I would do something like that when it is being streamed online? The police have not been able to find any evidence or witness to corroborate their claims. It was a fabricated case that was filed against me just to malign me. We have already approached the higher court seeking the quashing of the charges.”
Similarly, Aditya Shankar Prasad, son of Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, is juggling between Delhi, where he practises as a Supreme Court lawyer, and Bihar where he continues to carry out social and political work. Aditya, who did his Masters in Law from Cornell Law School in the United States, has a well-established practice in Delhi and is the lead partner in the Kaden Boriss law firm in India.
He was appointed as the co-in-charge of the Legal Committee of BJP’s youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) last year. “I will contest elections at the right time. Now is not the right time as my father is in active politics and I don’t want to be a source of conflict for him in any way. However, my ultimate goal is not just to contest elections, my goal is to transform Bihar into a model state and make it a global brand. I am right now practising law. I also practise in the Patna High Court and meet BJP workers and functionaries regularly there,” Aditya told this newspaper.
Guru Paswan, son of former Union Minister Sanjay Paswan, who is now a BJP MLC, has shifted to Patna recently after working with the BJP-allied think-tank, India Foundation. A law graduate from National Law University, Guru has already earned the reputation of one of the few young erudite Dalit voices and is now teaching at Patna University, which has given birth to many leaders of national and regional prominence.
“Being a politician’s son has its own advantages and disadvantage as people form an opinion about you even before meeting you. Due to my father, I have always been keenly interested in the social and political happenings around me, especially in Bihar. I feel that one can be actively involved in politics even if he is not an MP or MLA. If the party finds me suitable for a role, they will give it to me even without me asking for it,” he said.
Party sources said that with the BJP looking to strengthen its Dalit outreach in the state and in the Hindi heartland, it will give more space to young Dalit leaders in the coming days, and Guru certainly fits into the party’s scheme of things.
Another next generation BJP leader is Rituraj Sinha, the son of party’s Rajya Sabha member R.K. Sinha. He has been actively participating in the party’s affairs in the state. The 38-year-old Rituraj, who is handling the daily operations of the multi-thousand crore SIS firm, was appointed as a secretary of the state BJP last March.
Rituraj, who also handled the party’s social media campaign during the 2015 state elections, is among the strongest contenders for the Patna Sahib parliamentary seat, which is presently represented by BJP rebel Shatrughan Sinha. Rituraj had gained prominence during the 2016 demonetisation drive as his company SIS helped the banks in transporting cash to ATMs during the cash crunch. He completed his degree in Business Management from Leeds University Business School, UK.