Scindia and the Political Dilemma
Jyotiraditya Scindia’s switch from Congress to the BJP on March 10, 2020 sent shockwaves throughout the political arena. Mr Scindia had been elected to the Lok Sabha from the Guna constituency in Madhya Pradesh from 2002-2019 on a Congress party ticket. The family’s foray into electoral politics began in 1962 with Vijayraje Scindia, the maharani of Guna, being elected to the Lok Sabha. As she grew disillusioned with the Congress she switched over to the Swatantra party and the Bhartiya Janta Party. Her son, Madhavrao Scindia ,who never lost an election since 1971 started through the Jansangh Party before switching over to the Congress in 1980.
A major reason for the success of royal families in electoral politics is the
command that they held over the voter base of the region as former rulers, which has been further evidenced by empirical examples such as Maharani Gayatri Devis achieving the world’s largest landslide victory in 1962, winning 192,909 votes out of 246,516 cast.
However, the voting patterns have matured with the voters learning to vote differently in the central and state elections. A perfect example of this is Jyotiraditya Scindia losing the Guna Lok Sabha seat, a family stronghold, in 2019 and falling victim to the Modi-wave. A year later he contested and won a seat to the state assembly and remains an eminent state leader, with great popularity in the Chambal valley region. However, post the state elections, his side-lining was evident. Mr. Scindia submitted his resignation addressed
to Party president Mrs. Gandhi with statements such as “My aim and purpose remain the same…to serve the people of my state and country, I believe am unable to do so.” Minutes later, the Congress released a statement expelling him “with immediate effect” for “anti-party activities”.
Soon after Mr. Scindia left the party, he was followed by 27 loyalist MLAs. With the Congress having lost command of the state and BJP back in power, Mr. Scindia’s switch becomes more significant than ever.
The move seems to be driven due to his personal ambition of holding the Chief Minister’s office in Madhya Pradesh and gaining prominence as a national leader by benefitting from brand Modi, the well-oiled BJP electoral machine. However, considering that the BJP already has significant local leaders who can take the mantle from Shivraj Singh Chouhan and that Majority of Scindia’s influence is centred in the Gwalior-Chambal belt, which might not be enough to instantly propel him into a national leader. Another interesting aspect of the decision is BJP’s clear stance against
political dynasties. It would be intriguing to know how BJP would accommodate Mr. Scindia and his Chief Ministerial ambitions considering the tag that comes along with him.