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  Discourse   04 Oct 2017  The thin line between dynasty and legacy

The thin line between dynasty and legacy

The author is a Member of Parliament and national president of the BJP’s youth wing.
Published : Oct 4, 2017, 3:23 am IST
Updated : Oct 4, 2017, 3:23 am IST

The difference between legacy and dynasty is that the former isn’t hereditary. It does not follow the rules of succession.

We don’t even need to look as far as Japan to see a daughter who has taken her father’s legacy proudly forward — Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. (Photo: AP)
 We don’t even need to look as far as Japan to see a daughter who has taken her father’s legacy proudly forward — Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. (Photo: AP)

A legacy is not a birthright. It is a privilege that has to be earned, every day, by striving to live up to that which has been entrusted to you. There is a difference between a legacy and a dynasty. A legacy isn’t hereditary, it doesn’t follow the rules of succession and you are not entrusted to take it ahead even if you are incapable. Children look at their parents and learn from them. They are raised in an environment that prepares them for their adult life, both personally and professionally. A doctor’s child is expected to be a doctor, a lawyer wants his child to be a lawyer, a businessman teaches his child how to run a business successfully, so, why do we always point fingers when a politician’s child grows up to be a politician?

Parents are our role models. We learn the best from them. Watching a parent work for the people could often inspire a child to do the same. I strongly believe that each individual is born with a skill set, and the profession he or she chooses has to be one that will match their capabilities, allow them to hone their skills and show them the path to excel. Sometimes, though, family expectations and traditions eclipse an individual’s true calling, and young people are pressured into choosing a career they have no interest in or aptitude for. You become the right person in the wrong job, and there starts a downward spiral. Being my father’s daughter has given me a surname but it didn’t give me a political career on a platter. I glow with pride when people say I am a hard worker, and I look back at my decade-long political work and realise everything comes to you only with unilateral dedication and unforgiving hard work. The years I wasn’t visible were the years I spent growing my roots and working on making myself worthy of my name.


For 11 years I worked at the grassroots level, touring Maharashtra. After that, I was given the opportunity to contest the Vidhan Sabha elections, but I lost my first election by a huge margin and people wrote me off as another dynastic failure. I could have left the political world forever. I could have given up and never tried again. But like my father, I decided to look carefully at my failure and begin again. My father always took his mistakes in his stride and struck back harder than before. I wanted to be the same. I didn’t give up. I worked harder than ever before, I was unforgiving in front of the mirror and I have grown since then. When my party offered me a Lok Sabha ticket from Mumbai, it was from a seat that was considered Congress’s safest seat. It didn’t deter me; our team work paid off and how! I went on to win my place in Parliament and I am the National President of the Youth Wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party today. My constituencies were not my father’s before me, and I was rewarded for my patience and hard work by the position given to me today.


My “Mahajan” surname is a legacy I carry with careful reverence and constant hard work. I grew up listening to my father, learning from him. I didn’t inherit his oratorical skills. I inculcated them into my life. My father was a fighter, and like him, I am one too!

I was recently in Japan and apart from being impressed with their culture I was extremely inspired by their Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, who is the third longest-serving Prime Minister in post-war Japan. His maternal grandfather was a prime minister. His father Shintaro Abe was the minister of foreign affairs. His paternal grandfather served in the House of Representatives. This isn’t dynastic politics; this is carrying forward the family legacy of excellent public work. We don’t even need to look as far as Japan to see a daughter who has taken her father’s legacy proudly forward — Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.


Those who only rely on their last names to propel them through life often fail because people want substance. The first female prime minister of Thailand, Yingluck, was ousted by the Constitutional Court on the charge of abuse of power. We need to move beyond heredity, beyond sycophancies. Let us move beyond dynastic politics and carry our legacy forward with grace, pride, and above all, hard work. As Abraham Lincoln said, “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

Tags: legacy, vidhan sabha elections