Madhya Pradesh political crisis: Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists blame old guard, say party ignored him for Rajya Sabha berth
Jyotiraditya Scindia formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday, a day after quitting the Congress along with 22 Madhya Pradesh MLAs.
In a sense, history has repeated itself in the state after 53 years.
The tussle for a Rajya Sabha berth is said to have been the most important factor behind the current crisis.
Jyotiraditya Scindia formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday, a day after quitting the Congress along with 22 Madhya Pradesh MLAs. This has reduced the Kamal Nath government in the state to a minority.
Commenting on Jyotiraditya's resignation, political commentator Abhilash Khandekar said, "It is a bold step. He had been sulking for over a year as he was denied the post of Pradesh Congress chief. Hurdles had also been created in the way of him getting a berth in the Rajya Sabha. But with this development, he has proved himself as a powerful and young regional satrap. The Congress high command probably did not imagine that 22 MLAs would follow Scindia and resign.”
In a sense, history has repeated itself in the state after 53 years. In 1967, Jyotiraditya's grandmother Vijaya Raje Scindia broke away from the Congress, leading to the collapse of the Dwarka Prasad Mishra-led government. Subsequently Govind Narayan Singh became the chief minister, heading a coalition government. Vijaya Raje served a stint as an MLA of the Swatantra party and later joined the Jan Sangh — the predecessor of the BJP. She went on to play a major role in laying the foundation of the BJP.
Umesh Chandra, a Bhopal-based political analyst who had seen the developments in 1967, said, "The rebellion was triggered by a comment made by Mishra against the former royals and the Rajmata during a Congress convention. Mishra was also known for his high-handed ways, due to which there was discontent among some ministers and MLAs."
Chandra further recalled, "It all came as a surprise. In the Assembly on one afternoon, Vijaya Raje and a group of MLAs moved from the treasury benches to the Opposition benches, and later resigned."
Jyotiraditya's father Madhavrao Scindia, a Congress stalwart, also revolted against the party in 1993 after he was denied the chief minister's post. Madhavrao had floated his own party, the Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress, and joined the United Front government in 1996. However, he later returned to the Congress.
A source who was a close confidant of Madhavrao said, “Jyotiraditya faced a fate similar to his father, as he was sidestepped in favour of Kamal Nath for the chief minister's post. Further, (former chief minister) Digvijaya Singh, who virtually runs the government, ensured that Jyotiraditya didn’t become the state Congress president."
Factors that pushed Scindia to resign
The tussle for a Rajya Sabha berth is said to have been the most important factor behind the current crisis. However, the fact that Jyotiraditya was denied the post of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee chief also played a part. This demoralised Jyotiraditya's supporters to the extent that they demonstrated in Delhi to press their demand. When another young Congress leader Sachin Pilot was made the deputy chief minister of Rajasthan, it added insult to injury.
Jyotiraditya was sidelined after he lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election from his home turf of Guna. This was despite the fact that he had held the most rallies in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly elections.
The top leadership of the Congress party failed to see the ominous signals that had been emanating from the infighting in Madhya Pradesh. It did not take any action to prevent Digvijaya from making derogatory comments about Jyotiraditya. On 10 March, Digvijaya, in what was interpreted as a dig against ex-Guna MP, said, "We tried to contact Scindia ji (Jyotiraditya Scindia) but it is being said that he is suffering from swine flu."
The tussle between Digvijaya and Jyotiraditya has largely been over a Rajya Sabha seat and the post of Pradesh Congress Committee president. Elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Madhya Pradesh are due later this month. While the Congress and the BJP are assured of winning one seat each, the battle for the third one could take an interesting turn. Digvijaya is presently a member of the Rajya Sabha but his term is set to end soon.
A source close to the Scindia family further said, "Digvijaya wants to promote his son Jaivardhan Singh to an important position, and so, he has often thrown a spanner in Jyotiraditya's prospects. The Congress' top leadership should have ensured Jyotiraditya's nomination to the Rajya Sabha, as he has been a star campaigner for the party. However, the old guard close to Sonia Gandhi isolated him. It is good that he moved to the BJP."
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