Jyotiraditya Scindia, longtime Congress leader turned BJP man whose defection along with 22 loyalists brought Kamal Nath’s government crashing down — has received got his reward. Already given a Rajya Sabha seat, the 50-year-old was elevated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, in a rebuff to Rahul Gandhi’s taunt that he would always be a “backbencher in the BJP”.
Mr Scindia, once a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, appears to have written off the Congress — his party of 19 years — after the 2019 polls.
His exit was preceded by a year-long sulk and sources close to him said Rahul Gandhi did not grant him an interview though he waited for days. That allegation that drew a spirited denial from Mr Gandhi, who said Mr Scindia was the only Congress leader who could walk into his house “any time”.
Mr Scindia later complained of being short-changed by the party and said “talent and capability find little credence in the Congress”. His friends and relatives said his career was stymied by the party to preserve Mr Gandhi’s.
The heir of the erstwhile royal house of Gwalior, Mr Scindia had contested his first election from the family turf of Guna after the death of his father, senior Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia. He was also a minister in the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh.
But after the Congress lost power at the Centre, the young leader got caught between the Old Brigade of Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath in the state and factionalism that was almost a tradition.
Matters came to a head after the party won the state election in 2018.
Mr Scindia, who had hoped to be rewarded with the top job in the state, was persuaded into taking charge of Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 general elections in tandem with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
But not only did the Congress get decimated in the 2019 polls, Mr Scindia saw the family turf Guna go to the BJP. Rahul Gandhi’s move to step down from the post of the party chief proved the last straw – all of a sudden, the young brigade he had built around himself found themselves completely sidelined within the party.
His aspiration for the post of the state Congress chief was not met either — party chief Sonia Gandhi decided to stick with Kamal Nath.
What finally triggered his exit was the lack of a positive response from the party to his wish for a sure-shot Rajya Sabha seat. Now, with that Rajya Sabha seat under his belt and a ministerial post, Mr Scindia will have one more mountain to climb: The Chief Ministership of Madhya Pradesh.
For now, any such goal is like a speck on the horizon. The BJP move to shift him to the Centre, sources have indicated, is expected to also remove tensions in the state and give Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan a clear field to operate.
Reports said Rahul Gandhi has predicted that to achieve that goal, Mr Scindia will have to “come back to the Congress”.