Bhopal: Politicians love dwelling into the past all the time and even more as the elections inch closer. This has been the case in Madhya Pradesh bypolls as well where the battleground is ready in 16 of the 28 bypoll-bound seats in the Gwalior-Chambal region.
The campaign pitch in the Gwalior-Chambal region — which is home to Scindias who always had crucial interference in BJP and Congress —had been resonating with phrases like ‘Gaddar’ and ‘Rani Laxmibai’, and Scindias are heard at regular intervals in the bypolls, making them a virtual rewind of 1857 war of independence.
Historians have accused the Scindias, erstwhile rulers of the Gwalior region, of betraying Rani Laxmibai and joining hands with the British to quell the 1857 rebellion.
Though leaders like Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Prabhat Jha and Jaibhan Singh Pavaiya, all from BJP, never held back in accusing Scindias for allegedly siding with the British in 1957, they reposed utmost faith in VIjaya Raje Scindia, one of the founders of Bharatiya Janata Party.
Political observers also claim that as Scindias had key positions in Jan Sangh, BJP and Congress post-independence, political parties refrained from openly talking about the much-hyped alleged ‘gaddari’ of the Scindias.
However, with all the Scindias siding with BJP with the exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia from Congress, things have changed for both the Congress and BJP. As the BJP seemed in slight discomfort embracing Rani Laxmibai’s legacy with same vigour after the arrival of Jyotiraditya in March this year, Congress seemed at ease in claiming Rani Laxmibai wholeheartedly, said a senior Congress leader from Gwalior who wished to remain anonymous.
The Congress’s convenience was aided by the the ‘Gaddari’ slogan coined for Scindia and his men, said a political observer from Bhopal on the condition of anonymity.
The Congress, which never observed Rani Laxmibai’s Balidan Diwas on June 18, this year observed it on a grand scale with senior leaders like Kamal Nath paying visit to queen’s Samadhi Sthal. “We saw the fate of raja-maharajas of our party who had betrayed the party and formed their own outfits. Some have a history of treachery,” Nath had said at the event.
KK Mishra, an outspoken spokesperson, also took a dig at the Scindias, saying, “Who was close to the British and how she was killed, history has all the accounts.”
On contrary, the Balidan Diwas was a low-key affair for the BJP in Gwalior even as the party observed it with pomp and show in the past.
Senior BJP leader Jaibhan Singh Paviaya, a known detractor of Scindias, could not hold back his bitterness for Scindias. “The Samadhi Sthal is like a temple for me and I have been observing the event (Veerangana Balidan Mela) for last two decades,” Pavaiaya had said then. Though, he had said the event was not grand this year due to the pandemic.
“The principles can’t be altered garments and history can’t be changed for someone’s convenience,” Pavaiaya had said in a veiled attack on Scindias. He however had mellowed down after a rap from the party high command.
Prabhat Jha, another Scindia detractor, has also been singing a different tune. Despite losing his Rajya Sabha seat to Scindia, Jha has been praising Scindia time and again in the last few months saying he had expressed commitment to the nation by supporting the BJP on CAA, Triple Talaq and Article 370. He also keeps mum on Congress party now calling Scindia a land mafia.
However, Congress party has been raising the ‘Gaddar’slogan against Scindia, often not sparing his father Madhav Rao and grandmother Vijaya Raje who had deserted Congress in 1996 and 1967, respectively.
Madhav Rao had formed MP Vikas Congress in 1996 while Vijaya Raje had left Congress with MLAs to bring down DP Mishra government in 1967. Jyotiraditya, however, has been hitting back at the Congress over Gaddari allegations, saying, “like my grandmother and father when it came to their self-respect and public interest, they did not hesitate in taking the decision (to leave Congress party).”
In a recent interview, Scindia called the Kamal Nath government ‘Gaddari KI Sarkar’ as it betrayed farmers, youths and women, and said when he wasn’t heard, he decided to quit.
Scindia supporters are also circulating a pamphlet in which they are claiming that Congress was sidelining Scindia soon after gaining win with his help in 2018. Gwalior-Chambal public was constantly ignored by the Congress government. “What Digvijaya Singh did with late Madhav Rao Scindia, was repeated with Jayotiraidtya Scindia,” read the pamphlet saying it a similar time when Vijaya Raje Scindia had brought down DP Mishra govt which fired bullets on students in Gwalior and she had to take a decision over public interest.
Same was done by eight ministers and 14 MLAs under Scindia this year, said the publicity material.
However, the Congress is continuously dubbing Scindia and his men as gaddars (traitors), bikau (sold out) and murderess of democracy. “It’s not a fight with the BJP but between Asli aur Nakli Congressi (the real and fake Congressmen),” Congress media cell vice president Bhupendra Gupta said.
Baraiya Video Puts Congress in the Dock
A supposedly old video in which Congress Bhander candidate Phool Singh Baraiya is claiming that Rani Laxmibai wasn’t a Verangana as she fought in Jhansi and committed suicide in Gwalior, is making rounds on social media. BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal asked Congress to clarify its stand on the statement, saying what the party which assigned the Laxmibai the ‘heroine’ status recently, thinks about Baraiya’s statement in which the leader is abusing and insulting the queen. Ajay Singh Yadav, the Congress spokesperson told News18 that it must be an old video which is being used by BJP in edited form in bypolls. “Earlier Baraiya was in other party and we can’t say what kind of policy-vision he followed there,” said Yadav.