The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Sons who brought shame to family
- Spoilt kids of famous parents
(From top) Sanjay Gandhi, Sanjay Dutt, Jagat Singh and Amit Jogi

An old ABBA number has it that “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch, girl”. In Indian political history, one “bad” or spoilt offspring has tarnished famous families and broken the hearts and reputations of illustrious fathers and mothers.

If Rahul Mahajan brought disrepute to the memory of his late father Pramod and the BJP by allegedly taking drugs and keeping dubious company, Sanjay Gandhi had left mother Indira deeply embarrassed with his shenanigans during the Emergency.

Indira Gandhi fought her adversaries bravely and emerged out of the Emergency’s shadow, but Sanjay’s death while flying an aircraft left her shattered. So much so, that she reportedly went against her secular grain and sought the company of holy “gurus” and sadhus for solace.

Sanjay Dutt never allowed his father, former Union minister Sunil Dutt, a moment of peace. He was charged with hobnobbing with the underworld and keeping firearms, and was in and out of jail under an anti-terror law.

When he wasn’t behind bars, his taped conversations with one Dubai don or the other ensured that he and his father were always making the wrong kind of headline.

Dutt Senior had built his reputation in Indian cinema by portraying larger-than-life characters who invariably overcame terrible ordeals, and helped others overcome them. His son was known for playing characters who lived life on the edge in Mumbai’s seamy underbelly, or survived by their wits and succeeded, too. In real life, Dutt Senior died a broken man last year.

If there was a strand of idealism in Sunil Dutt, in real and reel life, the politicos from north India’s badlands couldn’t be bothered with such luxury. Yet, for all their shared, pragmatic approach to politics, Om Prakash Chautala did manage to spoil somewhat father Devi Lal’s authority and image of an elder in Haryana politics.

But although the son’s brazen rigging of an election with money and muscle power in Meham in the eighties brought negative publicity, neither Devi Lal nor Chautala blinked an eyelid. Corruption, land-grabbing and atrocities against Dalits ' all was fair in the way the family conducted its pursuit of power.

Last month, Chautala’s son Abhay was arrested for the murder of a Youth Congress leader in Haryana’s Mandi Dabral. In early May, when the law caught up with Chautala and the directorate of revenue intelligence seized his fleet of limos, allegedly imported without paying tax, the first one, a Toyota Prado, was seized from Abhay’s 18 Janpath residence which he occupies as a Rajya Sabha MP.

Former external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh’s son Jagat routinely courted trouble. His estranged wife, Natasha, fell to her death from a five-star hotel in the capital. Although she was deemed to have committed suicide, Jagat was under a cloud for a while.

The family allegedly resented Natasha’s friendship with a corporate executive whom she began seeing after she left Jagat. The executive was attacked by unknown assailants a couple of months before Natasha’s “suicide”, after which he left India.

Jagat has now been sucked into the Iraq oil-for-food scam, which cost Natwar his portfolio, and has been interrogated by the Pathak commission, which is probing allegations that some Indians were non-contractual beneficiaries of the Iraq programme.

Congress leader Ajit Jogi has had a patchy family life. First, his daughter Anusha took her life because she was allegedly prevented from marrying the person of her choice by her family. Then his son Amit, an alumnus of Delhi’s St Stephen’s, was charged with the murder of a Nationalist Congress Party official in Raipur when his father was Chhattisgarh chief minister. The CBI closed in on Amit after the Congress was voted out in the state and he had a long stint in jail before being freed on bail.

Amit has also been accused of engineering a sting operation against Chhattisgarh BJP leader Dilip Singh Judeo before the last Assembly elections when reports began predicting his father’s imminent defeat.

Email This Page