What has Scindia gained by leaving Congress

Jyotiraditya Scindia. Pic credit Picasa
Jyotiraditya Scindia. Pic credit Picasa

Almost overnight, Jyotiraditya Scindia has become a power to reckon with in Madhya Pradesh politics. With no party securing absolute majority in 2018 assembly election, he and his group of 22 followers are in a position to make or mar any government.

Using that bargaining clout, the Scindia group has become adapt in cornering disproportionate share in power in every Government that it is part of. The group commanded the loyalty of only 19 MLAs in the 114-member Congress Legislature Party when Kamal Nath Government came to power in December 2018. Yet it managed to get as many as 6 ministerial berths in the 29-strong cabinet!

The group pulled off an even better performance after it crossed over to the BJP side. In Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, it has managed to corner 14 berths in the 34-member ministry – almost 40 per cent share! More significantly, none of these 14 ministers are MLAs at present, having resigned from the house to pull down the Nath government.

The BJP leadership had to make compromises while conceding to Scindia group’s demands when it formed a proper ministry on Thursday. Its 107 MLAs could get only 23 ministerial berths. To accommodate Scindia group, a reluctant Chouhan had to exclude several veterans from the ministry, causing huge resentment.

Such was Scindia’s bargaining power, and pulls and pressures from different factions in the ruling party, that formation of a proper cabinet was delayed for almost 100 days after Chouhan took over as chief minister on March 23 last. A visibly disappointed Chouhan said: “Whenever there is a churn, nectar is produced, but Shiv has to drink poison.”

Ever since Jyotiraditya Scindia revolted against Congress and pulled down its government in Madhya Pradesh in a surprise coup, observers are wondering why he did it? What did he gain from it? As former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh said, “we had never imagined that he will do such a thing.”

Scindia was ranked among the top Congress leaders of the country and a close associate of former party president Rahul Gandhi. Remember Gandhi winking at him in Lok Sabha after that famous jhappi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi! After Scindia’s departure a shocked Gandhi exclaimed, “Only Scindia could walk into my house at any time.”

A scion of the Gwalior’s former ruling family, Jyotiraditya left his job with Merrill Lynch to join politics after the tragic death of his father, Madhavrao Scindia, in an air crash. He was a Congress MP from 2002 to 2019. He was a minister from 2007 to 2014, till Congress government was in power. He was later made a general secretary of the party.

The former investment banker started feeling frustrated ever since the Congress leadership bypassed his claim for chief ministership of Madhya Pradesh in 2018. With the party out of power in New Delhi since 2014 – and no likelihood of making a comeback in near future – the former investment banker’s career as politician seemed bleak.

In his home state of Madhya Pradesh, he started feeling isolated as Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh closed ranks against him. Nath’s no-nonsense and abrasive manner, and refusal to share more power, made him feel increasingly uncomfortable.

And then came the final ignominy. In 2019 he lost the Lok Sabha election to an unknown BJP candidate, KP Yadav, who happened to be one of his former cronies who would famously run to open his car doors and get snubbed for trying to get too close to get a selfie! It shattered the myth of Scindias being invisible on their home turf. Never before a Scindia had lost election in Gwalior Chambal region.

When elections to Rajya Sabha were announced, he was not sure of getting a nomination from the Congress, which preferred Digvijaya over him to fill up the vacancy. Scindia started feeling like fish out of water. Exactly nine months after his defeat in Lok Sabha election he crossed over to the BJP.

What did Scindia gain? Power. After all, that is what politics is all about. Exactly one year after losing his Lok Sabha seat, he is a member of the Rajya Sabha, with prospect of a berth in the Modi cabinet. Every second supporter of his is a minister in the Madhya Pradesh government.

Now he does not have to deal with Kamal Nath who would call him “Jyoti”. CM Chouhan, who had publicly mocked at his ancestors siding with the British in 1857, addresses him as ‘Shrimant’, an honorific for royalty. He is back in the Lutyen Delhi bungalow he had to vacate after losing his membership of Lok Sabha.

But his biggest challenge comes in September, when byelections to 24 assembly seats, including the 22 caused by resignations of Congress MLAs, are due. Many established BJP leaders, already feeling side-lined after Thursday’s ministry formation, are afraid of newcomers encroaching upon their turf. They may try to sabotage the chances of Scindia faction, for it is an uneasy marriage of convenience.

First India, 3 July 2020

What has Scindia gained by leaving Congress, by NK Singh, First India, 3 July 2020
First India, 3 July 2020

One Reply to “What has Scindia gained by leaving Congress”

  1. Your write up proves what Albert Einstein said “Force always attracts men of low morality”!

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