Name: Sandeep Singh (25); Category:First timer/Dynasty; Party:BJP; Constituency: Atrauli
At 25, Sandeep Singh is the youngest candidate fielded by the BJP in the ongoing elections but he isn’t a novice when it comes to politics. The grandson of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and present Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, Sandeep will be contesting from the family stronghold of Atrauli, the seat his grandfather brought home for the party several times. His father Rajveer Singh is the BJP’s MP from Etah.
From development to demonetisation, caste, and squads to prevent sexual harassment, there seems to be no dearth of issues when it comes to the Uttar Pradesh elections. But for Singh the focus seems to be on development. In an interview to The Hindu dated 19 January, Singh said that he plans to reach out to the youngsters on the issue of development. “I will inform the youth about the incomplete development in the state and how we need to take it ahead."
Singh was introduced to the public last year by his grandfather at a public function in Bulandshahr. Grandfather Kalyan Singh was twice CM of the state under the BJP (including during the Babri Masjid demolition). However, he quit the party in 2009 to join Samajwadi Party (SP) but left that party too. He then floated his own political outfit, Jan Kranti Party in 2010. Sandeep’s mother Prem Lata Devi contested the 2012 polls from Atrauli on the Jan Kranti Party ticket and lost. Kalyan Singh returned to the BJP in 2014. In interviews given to different publications while on the road, Sandeep has spoken about his grandfather’s legacy and how voters tell him that he has to work like his grandfather. He is pitted against BSP’s Illiyas Chaudhary and the incumbent, Samajwadi Party’s Viresh Yadav, among other candidates.
Uttar Pradesh elections have fast turned into a ‘spot the dynast’ game with several second generation politicians in the fray. In a 2016 article carried by The Caravan, Kanchan Chandra, professor of politics at New York University wrote that 22% of the MPs in the 2014 Lok Sabha had a dynastic background. “The Bharatiya Janata Party is often described as a non-dynastic party. But that’s just not true… BJP is less dynastic than the Congress." The article said that 15% of the BJP MPs as opposed to the Congress’ 48% were dynastic.
In Uttar Pradesh the party has given tickets to Pankaj Singh, son of home minister Rajnath Singh who is contesting from Noida and Mriganka Singh, daughter of Hukum Singh, a seven-time MP from Kairana. When asked about this, Singh stood his ground and maintained that there is “nothing wrong" in children of politicians entering politics. It’s a line of argument that Mriganka Singh has also put forth during her campaign. “Political success depends on one’s performance and the public, not on family legacy," Singh told an online news portal.
Come March, it will become clear whether the people of Atrauli have voted for the family legacy or chosen to go with someone who has more experience.