Rajat Sharma

Jyotiraditya’s exit is just the beginning of fresh troubles for Congress

AKB2610After keeping the Congress leadership on tenterhooks for an entire day, senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia sent in his resignation to party interim president Sonia Gandhi saying “it is now time for me to move on”. In his letter, Scindia said, “this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year”.

The resignation came shortly after Scindia met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in a clear indication that he, along with his MLAs, are going to join the BJP before the end of this week. In a face saving effort, the Congress leadership “expelled” Scindia with immediate effect on charge of “anti-party activities”.

So far, Madhya Pradesh Raj Bhavan sources have said, 21 Congress MLAs, all supporters of Scindia, have sent their resignations from the Assembly. There are reports of another five or six Congress MLAs ready to send resignations. Most of these MLAs are presently in Bengaluru.

In day long hectic political activity, senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan reached Bhopal to keep the flock of party MLAs intact. There were reports of several BJP MLAs flown out to Delhi and lodged in a hotel in Gurugram.

With a trial of strength looming large, the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government appears to be teetering on the brink of collapse. Only 80 MLAs attended a meeting held on Tuesday at the chief minister’s house, while efforts are on to rope in others.

Jyotiraditya Scindia is not new to BJP. His grandmother Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia was a founding member of BJP, and his father Madhavrao Scindia was in Bharatiya Jana Sangh, when he switched sides and joined the Congress during the Seventies. His aunt Vasundhara Raje is a senior BJP leader and former chief minister of Rajasthan. Another of his aunts, Yashodhara Raje, has been BJP MLA for five terms and was a minister in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government.

This is the first time that the entire Scindia family has come into the fold of BJP. Congress leaders may have their own gloomy prognostications, but Jyotiraditya is definitely going to carve out a special place for himself in the BJP. His aunt Yashodhara welcomed his decision with a tweet in Hindi, ‘The blood of Rajmata has taken a decision in the national interest. We will work together to build a new nation.”

It is sheer coincidence that the BJP has got a big Holi gift in the form of Jyotiraditya Scindia on the occasion of his father Late Madhavrao Scindia’s birth anniversary. And for the Congress, it is a big shock from which it may find it difficult to recover. The party leadership regarded Kamal Nath as a shrewd manipulator and go-getter, but 24 of his MLAs ditched the party under his very nose.

The manner in which these MLAs left the Congress raises questions about the party leadership and its style of functioning. On Holi, one of my friends sent me a WhatsApp message saying “Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya, this means Rahul telling his mother Sonia, while you were sleeping Jyotiraditya left.”

Now that Kamal Nath is busy in last-ditch efforts to save his tottering government, let me say this. The common Congress party worker in Madhya Pradesh and in other states is feeling bewildered. When the party returned to power in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, people thought it was a message of revival for the party. But within a span of 15 months, due to lack of proper leadership and correct policies, the party will now lose power in MP.

A young leader, who always stood like a rock behind Rahul Gandhi, has left. This was plainly due to Rahul Gandhi’s incapability.

The most interesting part is that while power in a big state like MP is being recaptured by BJP, and a big leader is joining the BJP, fingers are being pointed at the weak Congress leadership. This is a serious challenge to Sonia Gandhi, who had been trying to reinforce Rahul’s leadership in the party, but with Jyotiraditya’s departure, I doubt whether party leaders will accept Rahul has their leader.

The hopes are few and Congress leaders from UP, Rajasthan and Haryana have already started raising questions about the party high command. The high command’s attitudes are being held responsible for the imminent loss of power in Madhya Pradesh. The indications are clear. After Jyotiraditya, there may be fresh troubles for the Congress in other states.

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