Thursday, 30 June, 2022
HomePoliticsJyotiraditya Scindia — Congress loyalist & friend of Gandhis, until he felt...

Jyotiraditya Scindia — Congress loyalist & friend of Gandhis, until he felt betrayed by them

4-time MP Jyotiraditya Scindia had been with Congress for 18 yrs, having joined the party after father Madhavrao Scindia's death. He had been a minister during both UPA stints.

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New Delhi: Former Union minister and four-term MP Jyotiraditya Scindia’s leaving the Congress will hurt the Gandhis more than any other defections from the party in the recent past.

Forty nine-year-old Scindia was not just another loyal Congress leader. Over the years, he had become more like a family to the Gandhi siblings, Rahul and Priyanka. Scindia was among the young turks in the Congress with whom Rahul was at ease and was mostly seen flanked by him inside Parliament.

Scindia’s association with Rahul Gandhi, in fact, predates his joining the Congress. He was Gandhi’s schoolmate in Doon School, Dehradun.

Incidentally, Scindia’s bête noire, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, is also a Doon alumnus.

It was his father, senior Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia’s untimely death in a plane crash in 2001, that brought Scindia junior to India and to the rough and tumble of politics. Until then, he had been working as an investment banker — first with Morgan Stanley and then with Merrill Lynch. He completed his graduation in economics from Harvard University and then went on to do his MBA from Stanford School of Business.

Back in India, Scindia, then just 31 years old, joined the Congress and contested his first by-election in 2002 from the family pocket borough of Guna in Madhya Pradesh. The seat got vacated after Madhavrao’s death.

The scion of the Gwalior royal family won comfortably. The Scindias have never lost from Guna, right from 1957 when his grandmother Vijaya Raje Scindia first contested from the seat on a Congress ticket. Ten years later, in 1967, she defected to the Jana Sangh, which later became the BJP.

Also read: Inside story of how Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi forced Jyotiraditya Scindia to dump Congress

For Jyotiraditya, it had been a smooth run, electorally, since 2002. Even in 2014, when the Modi wave swept India, he was among the only two Congress MPs from the state who won comfortably from their seats. The other MP was his bitter rival and Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath.

But the winning streak ended in the summer of 2019.

Scindia suffered a crushing defeat just five months after the Congress had formed the government in Madhya Pradesh. It was all the more humiliating not only because he lost from his stronghold by a massive 1.2 lakh votes, but the winner was a relative lightweight BJP candidate, Krishna Pal Singh Yadav, a former Congressman who quit the party just a few months before that.

The last time the BJP had won the seat was in 1999.

Never switched loyalty until now

Unlike his grandmother and father, Jyotiraditya never switched loyalty from the Congress, a quality that had endeared him to the Gandhi family.

His grandmother, Vijaya Raje Scindia started her political career with the Congress in 1957 before switching over to the Jana Sangh in 1967. She stayed with the BJP until her death.

Her son, Madhavrao Scindia, had started his political innings with the Jana Sangh in 1971. He joined the Congress in 1980, but quit in 1996 due to some differences and launched Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress, which even went on to become a constituent of the United Front government that was in power between 1996 and 1998.

Madhavrao, however, returned to the Congress in 1998, and stayed in the party until his death.

After joining the Congress in 2002, Jyotiraditya had not switched parties until now, going on to win four Parliamentary elections.

He became a minister for the first time in 2004 in the Manmohan Singh cabinet when he was given the portfolio of minister of state (MoS) for communications and information technology. He was made an MoS again in 2009 and was given the commerce and industry portfolio. In 2012, following a cabinet reshuffle, he was given independent charge as MoS for power.

Felt betrayed after he was sidelined for CM post

Party insiders say Scindia’s disillusionment with the Congress started in the mid-2018, ahead of the assembly elections in the state, when the party high command appointed Kamal Nath the Pradesh Congress Committee president.

Scindia was peeved but devoted himself to the campaign after Rahul Gandhi promised him the CM’s post, according to party sources. But that did not happen.

After the results were out, the party high command picked Kamal Nath to head the state government, completely sidelining Scindia. He managed to get six of his loyalists to join the government but had no say in the government.

Scindia’s discontent grew further when he was appointed the All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of western Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He had no option but to focus on Congress’ election strategy in western UP, leaving the campaigning in Guna to his wife. There were rumours back then that Scindia might leave the Congress but he put all such speculation to rest by continuing with the party responsibilities given to him.

After the party’s disastrous performance in UP, Scindia resigned from his post, close on the heels of Rahul Gandhi’s resignation from the Congress president post.

Things had not been hunky-dory since.

Also read: BJP’s year-long game-plan in MP that led to Jyotiraditya Scindia’s Congress exit

In August, soon after the Modi government revoked Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two union territories, Scindia again created a flutter when he spoke in favour of the move, not toeing the party line to oppose it.

Scindia had tweeted his support for the revocation of Article 370.

In November that year, there were talks again that Scindia might leave the party when he removed “Congress” and other details about his ministerial stints from his Twitter bio, and replaced it with “public servant and cricket enthusiast” — something he has done again after tendering his resignation Tuesday.

Speaking to ThePrint, veteran politician and former Congress leader K Natwar Singh said had the Congress high command made Scindia the Madhya Pradesh PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) president, the drama that is unfolding now in the party could have been avoided.

“He had been with the party for 18 years. His father was a senior Congress leader. The party could have given him a more substantive responsibility. Jyotiraditya’s resignation is a loss for the Congress and a gain for BJP,” said Singh, who was a friend of Madhavrao Scindia.

A family man, doting father 

Scindia is married to Priyadarshini Raje, and known to be a doting father to their two children.

Soon after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were over and just before the exit results started coming in, Scindia flew with his family to the United States for his son Aryaman’s graduation ceremony from Yale University.

After the ceremony, Scindia had tweeted photographs with his son with the caption: “I feel extremely proud as a father today that my son @AScindia graduates from @Yale University. A special moment for the entire family. Proud to be by your side as you graduate, son!”

On Tuesday, Aryaman took to Twitter supporting his father. “I am proud of my father for taking a stand for himself. It takes courage to resign from a legacy. History can speak for itself when I say my family has never been power hungry. As promised we will make an impactful change in India and Madhya Pradesh wherever our future lies,” he posted.

Also read: How BJP tapped Jyotiraditya Scindia’s isolation in Congress to make him quit the party


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  1. Whole of Italy in lockdown and people maintaining safe distance from Italians. Scindia took it quite seriously

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