For Jyotiraditya Scindia, rewarded with the civil aviation portfolio for delivering Madhya Pradesh to the BJP, it’s a homecoming of sorts. Nearly 30 years ago, his father Madhavrao Scindia held the civil aviation and tourism portfolios in the PV Narasimha Rao government from 1991 to 1993.
While his father faced the challenges of liberalisation during his tenure, for Junior Scindia, taking charge of aviation as the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic will be equally, if not less, momentous.
The Civil Aviation Ministry’s last monthly report published in May this year showed that passengers carried by domestic airlines from January to April this year were 291 lakh compared to 329 lakh during the same period last year – a fall by 11.65 per cent.
The two leaders had also served as Union ministers before assuming the charge of civil aviation. Madhavrao had served as the railways minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government, while Jyotiraditya was a part of Manmohan Singh’s government as minister of communication and IT.
But the similarity doesn’t end here between the two. While Madhavrao had worked as a Jan Sangh (precursor of the BJP) leader before joining the Congress after the Emergency crackdown by the Indira Gandhi regime, Jyotiraditya joined the BJP by quitting Congress after a bitter feud with the Gandhis.
As he took oath on Wednesday, Jyotiraditya Scindia expressed gratitude to “all the senior leaders for giving me this opportunity. I will try to keep intact the belief that they have shown in me”.
The last year has probably been the most difficult for the royal in a political career of almost two decades. As a politician accustomed to being publicly hailed by followers, colleagues and even rivals with epithets such as Shrimant and Maharaj, Scindia had to face criticism not only from followers but also old-time colleagues such as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Jyotiraditya Scindia’s long and eventful political career in the Congress party started after his father Madhavrao Scindia’s untimely death in 2001. And on 10 March, 2020 — on the birth anniversary of his father — Scindia embarked on a new political journey in his life with the BJP.
Scindia, in the grand old party, brought what most refer to as suave, highly educated, untainted and with a clear understanding of issues and a deep connection to the grassroots.