Bhopal: The euphoria generated by Jyotiraditya Scindia’s resignation from the Congress among his loyal ministers and MLAs, ensconced in a Bengaluru hotel, turned into confusion bordering on panic when the former Guna MP announced his decision to join the BJP. Apparently, they were not told that joining BJP was also an option. They were reportedly under the impression that the exercise was merely to put pressure on the Congress leadership to suitably ‘accommodate’ Scindia and give him a greater say in the working of the Madhya Pradesh government. As an extreme step, Scindia would float a party of his followers or revive Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress, which his father, Madhavrao Scindia, had formed in 1996 and later merged in the Congress.
There were reports from Bengaluru that most of his 18-odd supporters were against joining the BJP. That could have been the reason that Scindia postponed his formal joining the BJP by a day as he probably wanted to convince his followers. If Scindia could not bring down the Kamal Nath government, the BJP had little use for him. It was not yet clear what Scindia had conveyed to them. An idea was given by a staunch Scindia supporter in Bhopal who said in hushed tones that his leader would after some time quit his Rajya Sabha seat and take over as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. That, though, does not seem feasible under the circumstances. The BJP in Madhya Pradesh has several contenders for the post, the most ardent of them being Shivraj Singh Chouhan who has not yet been able to adjust to his position in the opposition after being the Chief Minister for 13 years.
If Scindia takes with him sufficient number of MLAs to BJP and the Congress government falls, things may not be that smooth either for BJP or Scindia supporters, even without Scindia’s being made the Chief Minister. The MLAs defecting to BJP may face disqualification and will have to get re-elected which may not be easy in view of the animosity of the local party rank and file in each constituency. Already there are reports of rumblings in the BJP in Gwalior-Chambal region. There were reports soon after Scindia had joined BJP that BJP’s national vice-president and Rajya Sabha member prabhat Jha had announced his decision to resign from all party posts in protest. Jha later refuted such reports but it goes without saying that Jha is among those who are most hurt by Scindia’s joining the BJP as he has been a bitter critic of Scindia and was said to have been nurturing Guna constituency for his son.
Similarly, former member of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya (of Gwalior) has been a virulent critic of Scindia and was defeated in 2018 by a Scindia supporter (now a minister in the Kamal Nath government). It will be too much to expect Pawaiya, a former militant Bajrang Dal leader, to bow out and leave the field for the Scindia man who had vanquished him 14 months ago. Almost the same is the situation in other constituencies. Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has been shaping himself as the leader of the Gwalior-Chambal region with the blessing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Suddenly he will be expected to vacate his space for Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Fall of the Kamal Nath government with the help of the Scindia supporters may get Scindia a respectable position in the BJP hierarchy (probably in the cabinet also) but only at the cost of tension between old timers and new comers in the BJP. If Scindia fails to take with him sufficient number of MLAs and the Congress government survives, which does not appear impossible today, Scindia’s position will be that of proverbial washer man’s dog.