What with the BJP reaching out to Mulayam Singh’s daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav and its own Cabinet minister from Uttarakhand Harak Singh Rawat quitting the party over the denial of a ticket to his daughter-in-law, Anukruti Gosain, it’s the season of the daughters-in-law. The BJP immediately issued Aparna Yadav a ticket from Lucknow Cantt (a constituency from where she contested in 2017 and lost), while the Congress is planning to give Anukruti a ticket from the Landsdowne seat. More than the winnability of the candidate, the larger picture here seems to be to embarrass the other side. In fact, Aparna Yadav had been planning her exit for a while now, making overtures to the BJP and clicking selfies with the Prime Minister. The story of the Yadav family divide is well known in Lucknow, as is the settlement between Mulayam’s two sons, Akhilesh and his stepbrother Prateek. According to the family settlement, Prateek would not enter politics. He was compensated for this in the property divide. But clearly Prateek’s wife nurtured political ambitions and argued that if the other daughter-in-law, Dimple, could contest then why couldn’t she. Despite her loss in the last elections, she again pressed for a ticket, which was denied by Akhilesh, who put a blanket ban on family members contesting. This led Aparna to seek greener pastures. Of course, now one wonders how Rita Bahuguna Joshi will react, for the buzz is that she had been eyeing the same seat for her son. She has already announced that she would resign from the Lok Sabha if her son was denied the ticket. Will the Congresswoman turned BJP MP now move towards the SP? Watch this space.

Dynasty Strikes Back
The RSS is apparently not very happy with the BJP’s decision to deny Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal a ticket from Panjim. While Utpal wanted to contest from his late father’s constituency, the BJP had offered him two alternate seats. The Panaji ticket went to the sitting MLA—Atanasio Monserratte, who switched to the BJP from the Congress in 2019 and won the seat in the bypoll that was necessitated following Manohar Parrikar’s demise. The BJP deployed Devendra Fadnavis to reach out to Utpal, but he remained adamant about Panjim from where he is now contesting as an independent. Utpal has also lashed out against the “criminal antecedents” of the sitting MLA. Though he is fighting as an independent, the opposition may rally around him sensing a chance to embarrass the BJP. Dynasty is a hot potato to juggle as the BJP is fast finding out.

Too many CM pagdis in the race
Is there one chief ministerial candidate too many in the battle for Punjab? Apart from the sitting CM Charanjit Singh Channi, two others from his party are nursing ambitions—from the ever hopeful Navjot Singh Sidhu to Sunil Jakhar. The Aam Admi Party has also announced Bhagwant Mann’s candidature. The Akali Dal is offering Sukhbir Singh Badal and there is of course former CM Captain Amarinder Singh. The race seems to be narrowing down to Channi vs Mann vs Sukhbir Badal. Those who are writing off the Badals should not forget their hold over the Panchayats and the party’s own base. However, the opinion polls are divided between the Congress and the Aam Admi Party. There the battle is being fought at two levels, with Kejriwal himself taking on Channi and the latter’s image of being a genuine aam aadmi (man of the people); on the other hand, is battle of the stand-ups, with both Mann and Sidhu reaching out to the masses with their one-liners. One thing is certain—nothing in Punjab is ever boring.

The Last Word
While researching the art of political biographies, I came across Dr Karan Singh’s autobiography written a few years back, as well as an old video of his in conversation with Pavan Varma. When asked if he had held back any politically sensitive information, Dr Singh came back with a smart reply stating that he had written the truth, nothing but the truth…but not the whole truth. There’s a lesson there for our political biographers.