Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advised chief ministers of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states against involving their relatives in governance and ticket distribution. He has also asked them to consult him before travelling abroad.
Modi made these remarks at a BJP chief and deputy chief ministers’ conclave in New Delhi late last month, said two leaders familiar with the developments.
“The prime minister told us that while in power, the claims of the family often become overwhelming. It is important to keep that under control. If we give in, it will weaken our key political line of attack against the Congress on dynastic politics,” one of the leaders said.
He added that Modi cited the example of BJP’s electoral loss in Madhya Pradesh over two decades ago. “The problem in that election was that leaders gave too many tickets to family members.”
Polls are due this year in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and possibly Telangana, where chief minister Chandrashekar Rao dissolved the assembly last week to seek early elections.
At least two dozen BJP leaders are seeking tickets for their relatives in these elections, an office bearer of the party said.
The BJP is in power in three poll-bound states: Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. It is planning to drop a sizeable number of lawmakers to minimise the impact of the anti-incumbency factor. The BJP is wary that the party leaders might try to promote their kin as it looks for new faces.
Modi had refrained from giving ministerial positions to leaders, whose close relatives are active in politics, after storming to power in 2014. Jayant Sinha was made a minister since his father and former BJP minister Yashwant Sinha did not hold any position in the government. Lalji Tandon’s recent appointment as the Bihar governor is an exception. His son, Ashutosh, is a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government.
On Modi’s advice regarding foreign travel, a second BJP leader said there is no restriction on a CM from going abroad but that Modi wants every party leader and government functionary to focus on governance and to avoid any distraction as the national elections are around the corner. “The PM’s office should be kept informed of foreign visits either official or private of chief ministers and ministers in the state government/Union Territories. However, prior political and FCRA clearances are mandatory,” said a 2010 cabinet secretariat circular. The external affairs ministry gives the political clearance.
“The PM said that before moving a file (for travelling abroad), the concerned chief minister should let him know about the proposed visit, the host and the agenda,” the leader added.
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