Connect with us


Great Indian election drama; J&K is new hotbed for Dynasty Raj

Abhinav Verma



Kashmir elections


If politics is a game of power, than no one is ready to pass on the baton other than to his own family, has exactly become evident in Jammu and Kashmir, India this election season. The state has turned into a hotbed for dynasty raj with several sons, daughters and kin of powerful politicians all set to contest the assembly elections- many of them making maiden tryst with destiny.

A close analysis revealed that around 15 sons and nephews of political leaders have joined fray in this election by securing party mandates on the basis of their family background. Shockingly, the strong outburst against the Dynasty Raj by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, notwithstanding, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has apparently relaxed its tough stand for the party’s J&K president, Jugal Kishore Sharma, who has handed over the baton of Nagrota candidature to his brother Nand Kishore.

The party high command has already put its seal of approval leaving many party contenders, including Dogra Royal family scion, Ajat Shatru Singh to fend for themselves. Ajat had recently relinquished his MLC seat on NC nomination and left the party to join BJP.

Even as speculations were rife that Ajat would get BJP mandate, the party preferred Nand Kishore Sharma reportedly after the MP and state president Jugal Kishore Sharma build pressure for his candidature.

Party insiders told that Jugal Kishore has played significant role in grabbing mandate for his brother Nand Kishore, who is supposedly a ‘naïve’ in politics without having much following. Political observers said that BJP has reserved ‘dynasty raj’ as a strong offensive to attack National Conference and People’s Democratic Party during the assembly election campaign, however, the party has itself deviated and followed the line of other dynastic parties of the state.

Nanad Kishore will make his political debut in upcoming polls as by the influence of his brother Jugal Kishore he got the mandate from Nagrota constituency, party insiders said. They added that BJP has two experienced candidates including Chander Mohan Sharma and Ajatshatru from Nagrota assembly segment, but the party has decided to file fresher Nand Kishore.

They added that Chander Mohan Sharma was a senior worker associated with the party for last many years. Dropping of Chander Mohan Sharma has evoked strong resentment among his supporters. Similarly, Ajatshatru, who joined BJP early this month, has represented the constituency on National Conference after his win in 1996 elections.

BJP spokesperson Arun Gupta said that the party has given mandate to Nand Kishore after noticing his work. “Nand Kishore is known in the party due to his work not as a brother of MP Jugal Kishore” Gupta said.

Apart from BJP, many dynastic politicians are making debut in the politics through these elections, while others have already made their mark.

The politician sons, daughters and nephews, who would make political debut in this election, are Salman Anees Soz son of JKPCC chief, Prof Saifudin Soz. Anees , Javaid Beigh, nephew of Member of Parliament (MP) Muzaffar Hessian Beigh. Both of them are contesting from Baramulla segment.

Two sons of former deputy Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Mangat Ram Sharma, Subhash Sharma and Rajneesh Sharma, are also ready to make debut in politics.  Interestingly, while Mangat Ram Sharma quit Congress party to join PDP, his two sons are contesting elections on the mandate of two different parties.

Elder son Subhash is People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate from Kathua assembly segment, while Rajneesh is the Congress candidate from Bani, represented by his father thrice.
Another politician son trying his luck this election season is Vikram Mahlotra son of senior Congress leader and Chairman of Legislative Council, Amrit Mahlotra. Vikram is seeking election on Congress ticket from Jammu east constituency.

Dr Hina Bhat, who is being projected by BJP as its face in Kashmir Valley, is contesting from Amira Kadal, nonetheless being daughter of Mohammad Shafi Bhat, one time National Conference (NC) legislator and now a Congress leader.

Others have inherited the political legacy of their family include Akram Choudary, son of former minister and CLP leader Mohammad Aslam Choudary. He is candidate from Surankote. Aziz Munshi, son of former minister Munshi Habibullah, he is BJP candidate from Kargil, NC candidate from Duroo Farooq Ahmed Gania is son of former minister Mohammad Akbar Gania , Nazeer Ahmad Khan son of former minister Sarfraz Khan is Congress candidate from Beerwah Budgam, Manzoor Ahmad Zargar son of former PDP Minister Aziz Zargar. Manzoor has joined Congress and the party has fielded him from Noorabad constituency.

Likewise, Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar, son of former minister Sheikh Jabbar, a close associate of National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah is contesting on NC ticket from Ganderbal. Ishfaq had initially joined Congress, but is now contesting on National Conference ticket and has replaced Omar Abdullah from Ganderbal.

However the dynastic raj in Jammu and Kashmir has flourished utmost in strongest political families of the state, Abdullahs and Mufties with the former having already produced two generations of politicians, Ministers and Chief Ministers. Omar Abdullah, present Chief Minister had in his family two chief Ministers, his grandfather, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Father Farooq Abdullah, besides many uncles as Ministers and politicians.

Omar joined politics in 1998, as a Lok Sabha member and he took on the mantle of National Conference from his father in 2002. Though he faced defeat from Ganderbal during 2002 state assembly elections, four years later, he contested once again from the same seat and won in the 2008. Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed is the daughter of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.  In 1996, assembly elections Mehbooba became one of the most popular members – elected from Bijbehara on an Indian National Congress ticket.  Mehbooba Mufti was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha (2004-2009), representing the Anantnag constituency of Jammu and Kashmir. Her party, PDP, failed to win a single seat in Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and she did not contest that year herself. But in 2014, she was elected again to Lok Sabha from Anantnag constituency.

The Author is a working journalist and also a student of Mass Communication and Journalism. As a reporter, he has covered wide range of stories, including conflict, border issues, health and natural calamities. Contact: [email protected]

Continue Reading


A Historical exploration of Khajuraho



khajuraho temple

The UNESCO world heritage temples of Khajuraho are situated in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. Built by the kings of Chandela dynasty during 950 to 1050 AD, these exquisite temples were lost to the world from 13AD onwards till they were discovered by the British in 1838 under the cover of dense date palm trees.

 This collection of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples are Khajuraho temples are famous for art on stone. Variously described as living temples, Temple of Love and consisting of unique erotic sculptures the Khajuraho group of temples are considered by many to be the pinnacle of India’s temple art. The temple complex creates an eclectic mix of spirituality, eastern philosophy, architecture and cultural heritage.

Khajuraho is best visited during winter on account of its extreme climate. Summer months can be very hot. The famous Khajuraho Dance Festival is held in March and attracts visitors from across the world.

 Khajuraho is well connected to major cities by train and by air. The airport is 5km from the city centre and links to Delhi, Agra and Mumbai. It is best recommended to use a trusted cab service provider like Savaari, where you can make an online booking by downloading the Savaari App.

Western Group of temples.

 The Western group of temples have the largest of the temples and are richly decorated and form the main area of attraction

  • Lakshmana Temple – The temple dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is the oldest of the Khajuraho temples and has some the finest sculptures that can be seen in India.
  • Kandariya Mahadeo Temple – This Shiva temple is covered with beautiful carvings, sculptures and frescos that are known for their beauty, grandeur and finesse.
  • Devi Jagdamba Temple – This relatively dainty temple dedicated to Goddess Jagadamba has three bands of sculptures and the uppermost layer has some of the most erotic sculptures that Khajuraho is also famous for.
  • Chitragupta Temple – One of the rare temples of the Sun God in the country.
  • Vishwanath Temple – The temple is unique for its colossal bull statue dedicated to Nandi, the favourite companion of Lord Shiva.

Eastern Group of Temples

  • Parsvanath Temple – The Jain temple shows an eclectic mixture of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim influences in its three roof architecture.
  • Ghantai Temple – This Digambar Jain temple has a beautiful frieze inscribed on stone depicting the 16 dreams as seen by the Mother of Lord Mahavira. The temple though gets its name from the remarkable pillars, carved with chains and bells.
  • Brahma Temple – Among the oldest temples in Khajuraho, the temple is built entirely using granite and sandstone and dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

 Southern Group of Temples

  • Chattarbhuj Temple – Situated 3 km from the main city, the temple is the only one in Khajuraho without any erotic sculpture and faces west. Best visited during the sunset, the temple is known for the intricate and beautifully detailed four-armed idol of Lord Vishnu.

Do remember to attend the Light and Sound Show conducted in the Western group of temples that describes the horary past of these beautiful monuments.

Khajuraho is surrounded by other places of interest, such as the Panna National Park and the Ranneh Falls. Do plan your visit and hire outstation or local cabs from the airport to visit these temple complexes.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading


Explore the royal city of Mysore



Call it the Heritage City or the City of Palaces, the city of Mysore still emanates a feeling of au royale even in a 21st century India. A place of heritage for royal families, sultans, and legendary names in history, every corner of Mysore is steeped in stories of victory, power, and grandeur. A tour of this majestic city is only justified when you explore the royal heritage of the City of Palaces.

Getting there

Conveniently located on the southern edge of the Karnataka State, Mysore is easily accessible from major cities. It takes about three hours to travel the 152 KM distance from Bangalore to Mysore.

History and Heritage

The city of Mysore served as the capital for the Kingdom of Mysore between the 1300s until 1956. These six centuries saw the kingdom change hands of rulers and kings, from the Wadiyar Dynasty, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. But the common element of all the rulers was their penchant for art and culture. Under their patronage, they contributed to the city’s visual and cultural glory which earned Mysore the fame of Karnataka’s cultural capital.

A royal tour

If you want to experience the regal side of Mysore, you cannot but miss these structures of historical and architectural significance. You can join a heritage walking tour to explore the city on foot, or head from Bangalore to Mysore by car and stop by at monuments, palaces, and museums and learn about the legends that made Mysore. You can start your walk from the Town Hall, built in 1884, as a tribute to the first Dewan of the city.


Mysore Palace- The official residence of the royal family of Wadiyars, the palace itself is a work of marvel. An overwhelming blend of   Indo-Saracenic, neoclassical, Indo-Islamic and Gothic architectural works, the Mysore Palace is a breathtaking sight. Built in 1912, the palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts delicate works of mirrors, stained glass, mosaic and more. On any given day, you will find more tourists here than even at the Taj Mahal. Every Sunday, the palace comes alive with 97000 light bulbs bedazzling its façade and the premises.

Lalitha Palace– Yet another heritage building, the two-storied Lalitha Mahal sits on a ridge at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, which makes for a great vantage point. The palace was transformed into a hotel and offers a royal stay. If you truly want a feeling of royalty, then a stay here would be an experience.

Jaganmohan Palace– One of the seven prominent palaces of Mysore city, is a stunning work of ancient Indian architecture with intricate interiors and exteriors. The palace, transformed into a royal art gallery since 1915, houses paintings of the royal family, art by Raja Ravi Varma and an array of rare and antique musical instruments.

Museums- Stop by the Rail Museum to explore the archaic steam engines, the Maharani’s saloon, and other railway souvenirs. There’s also the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion showcasing more than 6500 folk artifacts from all parts of Karnataka. The Folk Art Museum, one of the most visited in the city, is also known for its collection of toys, models, and figurines.

Crawford Hall- Built in 1947, this is a must visit historic structure in Mysore. The royal palace is now known as the Mysore University but still renders a rich heritage to its ambiance.

Small, medium or large-scale, every historical building and monument of Mysore has a majestic touch to it. And such architecture speaks of its glorious past, which has left traces for the modern civilization to explore.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading


India’s Victory at the International Court of Justice is the World’s Challenge to the Status Quo

Manak Suri




For the past week, both the Indian and British media have rigorously covered the story of the re-election of India’s justice Dalveer Bhandari to the bench of judges in the International Court of Justice on Tuesday, November 21. That the Indian judge retained his position on the bench was not the sole reason for the story’s extensive coverage; his reappointment combined with the fact that it happened at the expense of the United Kingdom’s spot on the bench is why the story is making so many rounds… and no, that many Indians may see it as some sort of a comeback against Britain’s 200 years of colonial rule over the country is not the reason why it matters. It matters because this is the first time since 1946 that the UK has no judge on the ICJ bench, and that signals possible changes in the way international bodies govern and are governed. So what does this mean for India, for the UK and for the world at large?

The International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice or the ICJ was established in 1945 by the United Nations as its principal judicial branch and is located in The Hague, Netherlands. Its job is to settle legal disputes between states that are submitted to it and give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it. The court comprises of a total of 15 judges that are elected to 9 year terms by way of voting from both the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) separately. One third of the court is re-elected every three years, and no two judges of the same nationality may assume positions on the bench simultaneously. However, the rule that led to the deadlock between the candidates from India and UK is that a candidate must obtain an absolute majority in both the UNGA and the UNSC in order to be elected to the bench.

UN General Assembly vs UN Security Council: The Race in Numbers

On November 9 and November 13, in seven rounds of voting justice Bhandari secured between 110 and 121 votes from a total of 193 in the UNGA against figures between 68 and 79 secured by his British counterpart Sir Christopher Greenwood. However, among the UNSC, justice Bhandari lost out by 5 votes to 9 in favour of Sir Greenwood. In the face of uncertainty, the UK then pushed for a ‘joint conference’ under the rules of the court between the UNSC and the UNGA. Under the ‘joint conference’ three countries from each side then determine the name for the court. However, the rules do not mention the procedure to select these countries and understandably so, since the option was last invoked in 1921. Fearing not enough support from the council, criticism for invoking the charter, and harming its friendly as well as economic relations with India, the UK eventually chose to not follow through with the process and withdrew its candidature for the post. In the end, India secured the seat with a total of 183 votes out of 193 at the UNGA and all 15 at the UNSC.

There is More to the Victory than Meets the Eye

The result means different things for the parties involved and also for the balance of power and influence between countries. For the UK, there are hardly any positives to take away from this result amid already turbulent times. Many in the British media have viewed this loss as ‘a blow to British international prestige’ and the country’s acceptance of a diminishing role in global affairs. This was the UK’s second major defeat at the ICJ after it lost a vote by a margin of 94 to 15 countries in June when the UNGA voted in favour of referring the question of decolonisation and self-determination of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to the ICJ, which is currently under its control. Many within and outside the country have also been quick to blame Brexit for the situation in which they find themselves today, arguing that the other states, especially the ones within the European Union would have been less willing to snub the UK had the UK chosen not to leave the alliance. In the face of defeat, British diplomats have continued to maintain that they are happy that their close friend India has won, but have also not been shy of hiding their natural disappointment at their own loss.

For India, their victory in having a judge win the contest in getting elected to the ICJ bench against a permanent member of the UNSC is more symbolic than anything else. It reinforces India’s image at the highest stage as a major emerging global player and its ability to bring in greater reforms that push for more involvement from developing countries and emerging economies. Also, having a judge on the ICJ bench gives India an edge over Pakistan in the case involving former Indian Navy Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on the charges of espionage. True, a judge on the ICJ does not represent his/her country or their interests. However, as suggested by repeated criticism the court receives for being biased in favour of the states who appoint the judges, having a judge on the panel is certainly an asset for any country, no matter what the rules dictate on paper.

The most important takeaway from the whole episode far exceeds the ambitions of just the two countries and a race for a seat at the ICJ. India’s victory at the court reinforces the belief that power does not necessarily reside or has to reside with the ‘few global elite’, a sentiment which was expressed clearly when most member states of the UNGA backed India’s justice Bhandari to be re-elected against the choice of the permanent members or P5 of the UNSC. There seems to be an acknowledgment among the member states of the UN of the beginning of a change which sees an increasing shift in the balance of power away from the traditional powers of the world or the P5 – Britain, China, United States, Russia, and France. Of these countries, China was the only member to not have a judge on the ICJ between 1967 and 1985 till the final decision last week, when they were joined by the UK in the list. Last year, Russia was voted off the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the 2016 elections, France lost out on securing a position in the International Law Commission. While diplomats at the UN continue to maintain that there are no winners and losers here, that it is all part of a bigger picture, these developments undoubtedly mark diplomatic victories for the Group of 77 or the G77, a coalition of developing nations at the UN that have constantly pushed for an enhanced negotiating capacity. What remains to be seen is just to what extent they bring about a change in the status quo.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading