Bhopal: The exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Congress has been described by many as a body blow to the grand old party in Madhya Pradesh, and nationally. A look back at events after December 2018 indicate that it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction from the Gwalior royal family scion.
Many believe that Scindia made his decision after sensing a possible Rajya Sabha snub by his parental organisation, but his anger dates long back. It’s also apparent that the former Guna MP never hid his resentment, and his party did not take cognisance of his sentiments.
In the run-up to the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls, Scindia was appointed the chairman of the campaign committee, a pivotal place for anyone in electioneering. Kamal Nath somehow had acceded to his chief ministerial candidature. However, the situation changed fast after senior leader Digvijaya Singh ended his political sabbatical in mid-2018 and joined active politics.
Equations were altered soon after and the party appointed Kamal Nath as the state Congress committee chief in May 2018.
Things kept tilting in favour of Nath and he was eventually picked as the chief minister in December 2018. A subsequent defeat in the Lok Sabha polls only made matters worse for Scindia.
After this debacle, the former union minister set his eyes firmly on the post of state party unit president held by chief minister Kamal Nath. Scindia loyalists openly backed his candidature, but yet again internal upheaval in the Congress ensured the decision was shelved by the high command.
An upset Scindia expressed his disappointment in a video message on social media. "Usulon pe aanch aaye to takrana jaruri hai, gar zinda ho to phir zinda aana jaruri hai", were the lines that indicated he was ready for confrontation over his 'principles'. The message was accompanied by hints that he was ‘open to other options as well’. The party, instead of looking into this, appointed him chairperson of the screening committee for the Maharashtra assembly polls, against his wishes.
Many in his hometown Gwalior believe that Rahul Gandhi quitting the party chief’s post and Sonia Gandhi replacing him had given the opportunity to the old guard like Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh to bolster their position and weaken young Turks like 49-year-old Scindia.
Locals also claim that the state government deliberately chose officers who ignored pleas of Scindia loyalists in the Gwalior-Chambal region. Besides, several political appointments also irked the former union minister persistently. For instance, party leader Ashok Singh was made Apex Bank administrator, Hari Singh Sikarwar was appointed to lead co-operative banks in Sheopur and Morena, and Sunil Bhadauria was chosen to head the Sahkarita Super Market in Gwalior, all against Scindia's preferences.
As the year drew to a close, Scindia’s verbal attacks intensified on his own government, primarily on the issue of farm loan waiver, which according to him wasn’t fulfilled completely despite being a key promise in the party's election manifesto. A major drift in his ideology was noticeable when he backed the abrogation of Article 370 sections from Jammu and Kashmir, a stand contrary to the one taken up by his party which opposed the move vehemently.
Scindia dropped another hint of his anguish when he changed his Twitter bio, removing mentions of the Congress party and describing himself as a 'public servant and cricket enthusiast’.
When there was an uproar, he said it was a formal change and termed rumours of him being angry ‘baseless’. Meanwhile, his cryptic response to the citizenship legislation of the Narendra Modi government also landed him in trouble.
“The bill may be against the Constitution but it conforms to India’s culture of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (whole world is a family)," he said, in a statement which was widely seen as support to the contentious legislation.
Over the past few months, he openly confronted his own government on the issues of farm loan and illegal mining. He threatened to take to the streets if poll promises weren’t fulfilled.
To this, CM Kamal Nath simply replied: “Toh utar jayen na (Let him do it)."
The final warning had come from him amid the 'horse-trading' crisis in Madhya Pradesh when his ministers kept away from the rest of the cabinet. One of them posted a video message on social media, saying, “Till now all is well but things could turn grave if Scindiaji is ignored by the party.” The warning sprouted into reality with Jyotiraditya Scindia finally shunning the Congress and joining BJP on Wednesday.