Agas of Budgam are another family whose members are virtually scattered in various parties pursuing different political ideologies.
Union minister and BJP leader Jitendra Singh is a staunch proponent of Hindutva but his younger brother Devendra Singh Rana is his sworn political bete noire and sees in saffron politics a ‘disaster’ for the country.
Srinagar: In the midst of Jammu and Kashmir’s repugnant politics family ties and kinships are put to the test as there are several players in the restive state’s political arena who are siblings yet in opposite camps and hence at loggerheads with each other. While some of them see in it an ordeal, for others it is a diversion and even devotion. Their critics, however, see in it a deliberate attempt on their part to have the cake and eat it too.
Minister of state at PMO Dr Jitendra Singh is a staunch proponent of Hindutva but his younger brother Devendra Singh Rana is his sworn political bete noire and sees in saffron politics a “disaster” for the country. He, in fact, is deadly against mingling politics with religion.
Mr Rana is a close confidante of Omar Abdullah, former chief minister and working president of opposition National Conference (NC). He was elected to the State Assembly from Nagrota constituency of Jammu in the 2014 elections after giving a crushing defeat to the BJP nominee. He, like his party leader, is a known basher of the saffron party.
Mr Rana sees BJP’s “jingoism” and wrong and misplaced policies as the reason behind the ills of J&K and alleges that the party BJP leadership is disconnected with ground realities.
“The BJP must do some introspection and soul searching over the passe the nation is in,” he said.
His elder brother Dr Singh, on the other hand, is a staunch RSS man and known to be very close to its Sarsanghchalak (chief) Mohan Bhagwat. He is a bhagat or devotee of Prime Minister Narendra Modi too. A specialist in managing diabetes, Dr Singh is a prolific writer and good orator too. He is recognised as a man whose hard work over the years made the BJP’s triumph in the Jammu region, particularly the Chenab valley, possible the last state Assembly elections. He himself was earlier elected from J&K’s Udhampur Lok Sabha seat after defeating senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad by over sixty thousand votes. However, even professing divergent political ideologies, the siblings have never made any personal attacks on each other in public.
They are not the only real brothers who disagree with each other when it comes to politics. Senior Congress leader Karan Singh’s elder son, Vikramaditya Singh, joined Mufti Muhammad Sayeed-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2014 Assembly elections when his younger brother Ajatshatru Singh was associated with its arch rival NC. While the elder brother quit the PDP last year, the younger one had earlier shifted to the BJP along with his wife Ritu Singh and their son Ranvijay Singh.
Now look at one of Kashmirs feted “spiritual” family, the Agas of Budgam. Its members are virtually scattered in various parties pursuing different political ideologies. Aga Syed Hassan Al-Mousvi, the present chief Aga, heads Anjuman-e-Sharie Shian, an organisation of Shias of Kashmir which pursues both religious and political goals and also handles their legal disputes as members of this Islamic sect prefer to go to seek injunctions from their religious leaders including Moulvis and Agas instead the government courts. Such Sharie adalats (religious courts) determine justice according to Islamic doctrine.
The Anjuman is a constituent of separatist Hurriyat Conference and Aga Hassan is an executive member of the amalgam faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Paradoxically, his younger brother Aga Syed Mehdi chose to join Congress during the heyday of militancy in Kashmir when Aga Hassan was espousing the cause of aazadi and calling shots in Budgam and beyond. Aga Mehdi was soon killed in a mine blast blamed by police on militants.
The slain Aga’s son and Aga Hassan’s son-in-law Aga Roohullah has served as a minister in Omar Abdullah government and is presently the party's chief spokesman. He is an MLA too elected from Budgam as NC nominee. Aga Hassan’s another brother Aga Mohsin was also in Congress but quit it to join the NC ahead of the 2014 elections when reportedly denied a ticket to contest from Srinagar’s Hazratbal constituency which also has a sizeable Shia voters. He is now in the PDP. Their maternal uncle Aga Syed Mehmood, also a former minister, is in the NC candidate and has served as a minister in Farooq Abdullah-led government in the past.