New Delhi: Confident of winning the crucial byelections in Madhya Pradesh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP in Rajya Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia said he was sure the election results will “teach some humility” to former chief minister Kamal Nath.
Calling Nath and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh “traitors of Madhya Pradesh”, the BJP leader who switched sides earlier this year, said the leaders “committed treachery” against the farmers, women and youth of MP.
“Well, these are not words that I normally use in my life in terms of parlance, but the fact that it’s been used against me, I will only use it in so far as describing the state of affairs in Madhya Pradesh that if there is any gaddar [traitor] in Madhya Pradesh, there are only two gaddars in Madhya Pradesh, Mr Kamal Nath and Mr Digvijay Singh who committed treachery against the farmers in the farm loan waiver which was promised to them in 10 days, and even after 15 months had not been done,” Scindia told ThePrint in an interview over the phone on the eve of Tuesday bypolls.
“(They committed) treachery against the women of Madhya Pradesh, where they had been promised Rs 51,000 under the Kanya Dhan Yojana, but not a single woman got that post her marriage. The youth had been promised Rs 4,000 a month, but not a single youth got a single penny,” he added.
As Scindia quit the Congress in March this year, 22 MP Congress MLAs loyal to him resigned along with him. The exodus from Congress brought down the Kamal Nath-led state government. Bypolls to a total of 28 seats in the state are taking place Tuesday.
“Please understand that 27 out of these 28 MLAs were Congress MLAs. So the Congress has everything to lose, and the BJP has everything to gain. And that aspect must be something that is understood when one looks at this analysis, because these are all — 27 out of 28 — Congress seats,” he added.
The former Congress leader targeted the former Kamal Nath government over corruption allegations.
Scindia also spoke about charges of personal ambition driving his decision to move to the BJP, adding that he is not eyeing any post and just working for the party.
Moreover, he highlighted the “cultural integration” between his group of former Congress leaders and the BJP.
On fall of Kamal Nath government
Of the 28 seats going to polls, 16 come under the Gwalior-Chambal region, which is considered Jyotiradtiya Scindia’s pocket-borough.
“The Congress party in the 70 years of independent India has never got more than 18 seats in that region. There are a total of 34 seats, which is roughly about 15-16 per cent of the population. For the first time in 2018, the Congress got 26 out of 34. The BSP got one and the BJP was wiped out with only seven seats. So there was a huge reinforcement of the public’s vote in the Congress party,” he said.
“That’s the agenda that I had put forward to them in the 2018 election, that if you elect our government, we will carry out development (of) for instance the Chambal Expressway, which extends up to Kota in Rajasthan and crosses over almost about 450 km, bringing water to Gwalior from Chambal, doing an elevated expressway… so number of things that had been promised,” said the former Congress leader.
He added that in its 15 months, the Kamal Nath government, which was “mired in corruption” top down, completely abdicated the “developmental agenda to the dustbin of history”.
“And that’s why we’ve had this change of government,” he said.
He said he did not switch over to the BJP because of any personal ambition, “unlike what the Congress” is trying to make it about. “If it was about personal ambition, then I would have kicked up a fuss when Kamal Nath was made PCC president. More so, I would have put in a huge objection when he was made chief minister and you, yourself are witness that in both occasions, I acquiesced immediately and put my full support behind the party and, and worked my guts out. And even this time around, Shivraj Singh is the chief minister, not me,” said Scindia.
“This is probably the first time in the history of independent India that any government that was formed after being in opposition for 15 years, lost the support and trust of 22 of its MLAs within a short span of 15 months as they were mistreated and their developmental agenda was to be sidetracked,” he said.
“So a person who cannot hold the trust of even 114 MLAs, six of whom were ministers, 22 resigned (from) the minister of cabinet posts… Even a sarpanch today will not resign… But they did,” he added.
Scindia also accused Kamal Nath of running a “completely corrupt, autocratic government”.
He also criticised the former CM over his “item” jibe for Congress-turned-BJP leader Imarti Devi, saying a certain level in politics should be maintained.
Scindia said the public “look to us as role models”. “And if you intend to be a role model, you must behave and conduct yourself in such a manner,” he said, adding that Nath didn’t care for Rahul Gandhi when the latter asked him to apologise, or for the Election Commission that removed him from the list of star campaigners.
“I mean the arrogance of the man is shocking. And I’m really confident that the people of Madhya Pradesh will, if nothing at all, teach him some humility tomorrow on voting day,” he said.
Talking about the bypolls, Scindia said, “I am very confident that this election is about the people and their development, and we will get a very, very handsome number of these seats, and I’m quite confident that we will win each and every one. But that only time will tell. I’m not an astrologer and I don’t give predictions, but we will get a very handsome number out of these 28.”
On personal ambition
Asked if he is eyeing the chief minister’s post, Scindia was quick to “categorically” deny it.
“I don’t think that you know me. Well. No, no. And I’ve never had because if you see my conduct over the last year, even regarding the PCC, as well as the chief minister’s post, when Rahul Gandhi told me that he is making Kamal Nath PCC president, I said, absolutely, go ahead. I’ll put my best behind him,” he said.
“And I think my work speaks for itself in that campaign. I’m not a guy who hankers after a nameplate or a post. My passion is really my people and my connection with my people and development,” added Scindia.
There was speculation that Scindia will also get a place in the Narendra Modi cabinet after getting the Rajya Sabha seat. However, Scindia said his ambition is not about himself.
“When I was in the Congress party, the only role that I saw for myself was that of a worker of the Congress party. When I am today in the BJP, the only role that I see for myself similarly is as a worker of the BJP,” he said.
“Also let me say every human being has an ambition. I have an ambition, but my ambition is not about myself. And not about a post, not about a position, not about a nameplate ambition. I feel very strongly for the people of my state and contributing to their development and their progress is what I believe in,” he said.
On cultural integration
Asked how he and his supporters reconciled with the experienced BJP leaders in the state, Scindia said the credit for it must go to CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan as well as state BJP president V.D. Sharma.
“The three of us worked very assiduously over the last four months to ensure that the cultural integration takes place between not only these MLAs but also with the one and a half lakh Congress workers I brought into the BJP across all of Madhya Pradesh,” he said.
“And I must say credit must go to Shivraj Singh and to state president V.D. Sharma who along with me… And there’s been an almost complete integration of the new BJP members with the old BJP members. So we are all now BJP members,” he said.
“And so much so that in the election campaign, every single worker and leader of the BJP is putting their best foot forward to ensure that we win all of these seats. There’s complete harmony and unity,” he added.
Asked about the rumours that BJP leaders in Madhya Pradesh have still not accepted him with open arms, Scindia said “actions speak louder than words”.
“And in the last three and a half months, you’ve seen how all of us have worked side by side, shoulder to shoulder to make sure that this is a success. And I must for that thank the blessings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, BJP president J.P. Nadda ji, Home Minister Amit Shah, and CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the state president V.D. Sharma,” he said.
“They have been unequivocal in their support and to ensure that this integration happens,” said Scindia.
“But it’s also a process where respect has to be given both ways. Not only the people who are joining the party have to be given respect, but also the people who are joining, which shows that they give a huge amount of respect to the stalwarts of the BJP. It has to be a two-way exercise,” he added.
On Congress and Rahul Gandhi
Asked why he did not take Congress leader Rahul Gandhi into confidence before he decided to quit, given that he was an integral part of Gandhi’s team, Scindia said he raised “these issues multiple times within the Congress fora”.
“Having said that, I believe that the Congress party is now my past. I’m more than happy to talk to you about my present and my future, which is the policy of the party of which I have an ordinary worker,” he said.
“I have always believed in life, but there is a certain dignity in silence. And I have maintained that dignity over the last seven months. And I don’t intend to break that dignity in silence now,” he said.
On the recent exodus of leaders from the Congress, Scindia said he would not want to comment as he is no longer a member of the party.
“And I am not one of those politicians who uses political opportunities to win a couple of brownie points here or there. I cannot and I will not comment on the internal affairs of the Congress because that is the Congress’s problem and the Congress’s issues. I am now working for the BJP and I will comment on the BJP,” he added.
On his statement about him being public’s dog, Scindia said he merely wanted to highlight the point that just as a dog protects his master, he will protect his people who are his “master”.
“Because the public is my master, and the job of a dog is to protect his master and my job is to protect my people. And if someone commits treachery against them then I will defend them,” he said.