In the Last 15 Years, All Congress Bastions Fell, Except Jyotiraditya Scindia’s
In the 2013 state elections, Scindia defeated all odds to increase Congress’ tally from one to five assembly seats in Guna.
Bhopal: During 15 years of BJP’s rule in Madhya Pradesh, Congress bastions have fallen one by one. But one figure who has managed to not only keep his stronghold intact, but has also come out stronger every election – Jyotiraditya Scindia, from Guna Lok Sabha constituency.
Guna has been a part of the royal Scindia family for generations. After Scindia’s father Madhavrao Scindia died in 2001, Scindia was elected to the Lok Sabha from Guna in 2002. Before Madhavrao, his mother Vijaya Raje Scindia held the seat.
A four-time MP from Guna, Scindia was one of the few who survived the 2014 Modi wave, retaining his seat by a margin of 1.2 lakh votes while the Congress narrowly crept through to win just two of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh.
In comparison to his party, Scindia grew stronger. In 2008, there was only one Congress MLA, KP Singh from Pichhore constituency, among the eight Assembly constituencies in Guna – Pichhore, Guna, Shivpuri, Ashok Nagar, Bamori, Mungaoli, Chanderi and Kolaras. Six of the seats were won by BJP MLAs, and a single by a candidate from Bharatiya Janshakti Party, a split-off faction of the BJP.
In the 2013 state elections, while the entire electorate was in awe of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the BJP’s increasing presence, Scindia defeated all odds to increase his party’s tally from one to five Assembly seats in Guna.
In 2018, he set out on the campaign trail for by-elections on two Assembly seats — Kolaras and Mungaoli — in his area, which the Congress candidates won. This broke the trend of by-elections generally being won by the party in power. While the Congress cadre grew weak across the state, the incumbent nurtured a whole new generation of workers in his backyard.
The secret behind Scindia’s success has been to provide employment, improve the region’s economic status, and more importantly, take a personal interest in the lives of his voters.
He is credited with several multi-crore projects in Guna. “They (BJP) boast of development, but our Maharaj (Scindia) does it all silently. He not only brings in big projects, but monitors development of all the projects personally,” says Vivek Kant Bhargava from Chanderi, a region that falls under Scindia’s Lok Sabha constituency.
“He comes here every month and interacts with us. He recognises us by our names and our father’s names,” adds Chandrapal Yadav, a booth-level worker in Vedmau, Kolaras Assembly constituency. “People might think he wins because of his royal background, but the truth is that he cares for his people,” Yadav says.
Another worker from Guna, Sunil Mishra, points out that “Scindiaji’s strength is his booth workers. He holds a yearly get-together with his entire team, along with monthly meetings. He remains present on all occasions, happiness or grief, with us”.
One team member explains that all of Scindia’s tour programmes in Guna include condolence visits, where he calls on homes of bereaved families. Moreover, he has appointed representatives in the districts of Guna, Ashok Nagar and Shivpuri, and their primary duty is to resolve grievances.
Pankaj Chaturvedi, Congress spokesperson, reveals how Scindia fought against all odds to get a medical college approved by the central government in Shivpuri, and it is now a reality with a new batch starting this year.
There are other achievements under Scindia’s belt. According to Chaturvedi, Scindia implemented a clean drinking water scheme worth Rs 72 crore in Shivpuri, approved a Gwalior-Dewas four-lane project worth Rs 4,000 crore, and is credited with initiating rail services between Gwalior and Bhopal, while also approving construction of the Gwalior-Shivpuri-Guna railway line.
It was Scindia who brought in the Rs 125 crore Footwear Design and Development Institute, and the Chanderi Handloom Park worth Rs 150 crore, for which CM Chouhan had taken credit.
“It was because of Scindiaji’s effort that we have the Footwear Design and Development Institute here in Guna,” says Kapil Jain, with a sense of pride. Jain is a member of Scindia’s team of booth workers. “These projects have brought employment in the area, besides bringing in national-level institutes that provide professional training,” adds Chaturvedi.
Yet, the state’s BJP government speaks of Scindia disparagingly as the ‘Maharaj’.
In conversation with this reporter a week ago, Scindia, when addressed as Maharaj, asked with a smile: “The real Maharaj is Shivraj. If I am born in a royal family, is it my fault?”
“My workers are like my family members and they are my strength. Only they can answer if I act like a maharaj,” he added. There are 29 Lok Sabha seats in MP, where the Congress currently runs only two – Scindia’s Guna, and Kamal Nath’s Chhindwara. Both politicians have successfully retained their seats in the last few election cycles.
Among Guna’s Assembly seats, five are with Congress – Pichhore, retained by KP Singh since 1993; Bamori, won by Mahendra Singh Sisodia in 2013 from BJP’s Kanhaiya Lal Agarwal; Chanderi, won from the BJP by Gopal Singh Chouhan; and Mungaoli and Kolaras, won in this year’s bypolls by Brijendra Singh Yadav and Mahendra Singh Yadav, respectively. Kolaras was with the BJP in 2003 and 2008.
In the 2013 state election, Shivpuri was won by BJP’s Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Guna by BJP’s Panna lal Shakya (retained since 2003) and Ashok Nagar by BJP’s Gopilal Jatav.
Currently, Scindia, Congress’ chief whip in the Lok Sabha, is spearheading the party’s campaign for the upcoming polls for Madhya Pradesh’s 230 Assembly seats.
(Author is a freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters)