Scindia changes colours

A day after quitting the Congress, Jyotiraditya Scindia jumped ship to the BJP in the presence of president JP Nadda on Wednesday as he slammed his former party for “denying reality” and “not acknowledging” new thoughts and new leadership. The four-time parliamentarian also lavished praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, exalting him for his leadership skills merely days after he had criticised the BJP for the violence in Delhi.

Scindia was also named as the BJP’s Rajya Sabha candidate from Madhya Pradesh – a promise that perhaps sealed the deal for the Gwalior royal who had been fighting a losing identity battle within the Congress as old warhorses like Digvijay Singh and Kamal Nath tried to sideline him in a bid to push their children’s political careers.

He vented his anguish with the national leadership of the Congress, where he started his electoral career in 2002 and occupied key positions, and also the party-run Madhya Pradesh government, saying the dream when it was formed in 2018 now lay “shattered” with farmers and youths living in distress and corruption rampant.

The Congress is no longer the party it was, he told reporters, adding that his heart was “anguished and pained” as his goal to serve people through the party was no longer possible.

Breaking his silence, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi dismissed reports that Scindia had unsuccessfully tried to reach out Sonia Gandhi and him before leaving the party.

“He was the only chap in the Congress who could walk into my house anytime,” Gandhi said.

As he welcomed Scindia into the ‘family’, Nadda recalled Vijaya Raje Scindia, one of the BJP’s founders and grandmother of Jyotiraditya, and his father Madhavrao Scindia who had also started his politics with Jana Sangh.

Scindia’s aunt and former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje welcomed him to the BJP.

“Jyotiraditya has followed the high ideals of the legacy of Vijaya Raje Scindia and took the decision in the interest of the country. I welcome this decision personally and politically,” said Raje, who is also the BJP’s national vice president.

She also tweeted that it was good to be on the same team.

“If Rajmata Sahab was here today, she would be elated to see you put the nation first. I admire your strengthen of character and courage. It’s good to be on the same team. Welcome to the BJP,” she wrote on Twitter.

The saffron party is confident of toppling the Kamal Nath government and capturing power with the help of MLAs loyal to Scindia.

As many as 22 Congress MLAs, most of them supporters of Scindia, are camping in Bengaluru and have resigned from the Madhya Pradesh assembly, reducing the Congress government to a minority.

Peeved with his marginalisation in the Congress, Scindia had met Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday and quit the party.

“The Congress of today is no longer the party it was. The party is denying reality. It is not acknowledging the reality. New thoughts, new ideology and new leadership are not being acknowledged. While this is the condition at national level, the dream we had formed for Madhya Pradesh has been shattered in 18 months,” he said after joining the BJP.

Hailing Modi, he said the prime minister has received mandates that that no government probably got.

“He has enhanced India’s prestige globally. The ability he has to execute schemes and comprehend future challenge; his competence and full dedication... India’s future is fully secure in his hands,” he said, adding that he was grateful to the top BJP brass to give him a chance to serve people.

Scindia asserted that his goal is to serve people in “Bharat mata” and remembered his father Madhavrao Scindia, who left the Jana Sangh to join the Congress later to become one of its leading figures before meeting an untimely death in a plane crash in 2001.

He noted that his father would have turned 75 on Tuesday, the day he quit the Congress.

A number of senior BJP leaders, including Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan and its general secretaries Anil Jain and Arun Singh sat beside Scindia on the dias when he spoke.

He said in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress’s promise to waive loans of farmers was not fulfilled and thousands of them continued to face criminal cases lodged during Mandsaur violence, where several farmers had died in police firing in 2017 during the BJP’s reign.

There are few employment opportunities in the state and only “transfer industry” is growing with corruption being rampant, he said.

He made no comment on the fluid political developments in the state and did not take any question from reporters.

A four-time MP, Scindia first got elected from his family pocket borough of Guna in Madhya Pradesh in 2002 after winning a by-election necessitated by his father’s death. He was only 31 years old at that time.

He gradually made his way up the Congress ladder becoming Minister of State for Communications and IT in 2007 during the Congress-led UPA-1. In 2009, he became Minister of State for Commerce and Industry and in 2012 was appointed Minister of State for Power during UPA-2.

After the Congress lost the 2014 General Election, Sonia Gandhi named him the party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha.

His ties with the party soured after Kamal Nath became the state’s chief minister following its returned to power after a gap of 15 years.

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