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Political Legacy of the Scindia Family of Gwalior

Jyotiraditya Scindia put in his resignation on the 9th of March 2020 to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, clearly stating his inability to continue working for the Congress. Funnily, he was expelled by the Congress the next day, with serious name calling on their part.

With a news storm in place, it is pertinent to recall the political legacy of the Scindia family, which has been present on the political scene of India for nearly seven decades now.

The Legacy of Vijaya Raje Scindia

Jyotiraditya Scindia is the grandson of late Vijaya Raje Scindia, the chief matriarch of Gwalior’s royal family.

Vijaya Raje first contested the Lok Sabha elections in 1957, and won the Guna Lok Sabha seat for the Congress party. She continued her winning streak, this time from Gwalior in 1962. However, she quit the Congress party due to differences with the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, DP Mishra. 35 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) broke away with her, and they formed a coalition government in the state with the Praja Socialist Party of Jayprakash Narayan and Acharya Narendra Deva, and the Jan Sangh, which fell within nineteen months in 1969.

Vijaya Raje successfully contested the Guna seat in 1967 as the candidate of C. Rajagopalachari’s Swatantra Party, before joining the Jan Sangh post the collapse of the coalition government in 1969.

In 1971, Vijayaraje defied the Indira Gandhi wave and helped the Jan Sangh win three seats in the Gwalior region – Gwalior, Guna and Bhind. Beised herself, the other two winners were Atal Bihari Vajpayee and her son Madhav Rao Scindia.

Emergency and After - Split in the Family

During the emergency, Vijaya Raje was put in jail like many other prominent leaders of the Opposition by Indira Gandhi. She shared her cell with another royal figure and prominent opposition face – Gayatri Devi of Jaipur. Eventually, she became part of the Janata Party which defeated Indira’s Congress in 1977 in the first ever rout witnessed by the Nehru-Gandhi family. However, by 1979, the government and Janata Party were tetering, and that was when her son Madhav Rao ended up with the Congress.

Madhav Rao was sidelined repeatedly for the position of Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Minister, first due to the efforts of Arjun Singh in 1989, and later due to the actions of Digvijay Singh in 1993. By that time, he was a minister into the P.V. Narasimha Rao led Congress government. Shortly before the 1996 elections though, Madhav Rao resigned after his name figured in the Jain hawala diaries. Congress denied him a ticket in the Lok Sabha elections of April-May 1996, and he ended up creating his own Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress (MPVC). He defeated the official Congress candidate against him in Gwalior to enter Lok Sabha for the seventh time.

In contrast, Vijaya Raje ended up as one of the founding figures of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), the successor of the Jan Sangh, giving legitimacy to the party. She would retain the Guna seat in 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1998. Her daughters, Yashodhara Raje and Vasundhara Raje, have been prominent BJP members. Vasundhara Raje became a Union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee era and was the Chief Minister of Rajasthan for the BJP twice. Yashodhara Raje was a minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh.

Jyotiraditya Scindia’s Stint with Congress

Jyotiraditya, with degress from Harvard College and Stanford University, first contested his first Lok Sabha election in the 2002 bypoll after his father’s death in a helicopter crash in 2001. He would win the seat repeatedly till 2019, when he lost the seat to BJP’s Krishna Pal Singh Yadav. Minister of Power (Independent Charge) from 2012 to 2014 in the UPA II government, he was believed to be one of Rahul Gandhi’s closest aides.

Jyotiraditya lost out to Kamal Nath who is backed by Congress’ Digvijaya Singh for the post of Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Minister in 2018, and since then there was speculation that Jyoti would move out of the Congress sooner or later. Many saw a redux of the snub his father had faced in the late eightees and early ninetees by then senior leaders of the Congress.

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