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Palace politics impacts Gwalior poll
March 02, 2007 13:27 IST
In Gwalior, everything revolves around the palace and in the 60th year of independence, palace politics dominates the Lok Sabha elections also.
Departing from tradition -- for the sake of the opposition -- the scion of the royal family and Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia has joined the campaign trail against a member of the Scindia clan and Madhya Pradesh Tourism Minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia, the BJP nominee for the March 8 by-election in Gwalior.
Jyotiraditya's initial absence from the campaigning gave credence to the belief that members of the royal clan were insulated from within and did not come out openly against each other.
The only exception was the Lok Sabha election of 1984 when the then Rajmata Vijay Raje Scindia-supported BJP nominee Atal Behari Vajpayee had to face defeat as Madhavrao Scindia filed his nomination as Congress candidate at the last moment.
On all other occasions, the palace nominees romped home as the royal family members preferred to contest from comparatively safer Guna, their fiefdom.
The by-election was caused by disqualification of Ram Sevak Babuji (Congress) who was caught in the cash-for-query scam.
Yashodhara Raje Scindia is pitted in a 24-candidate contest. Businessman Ashok Singh of the Congress is her main rival.
Besides 18 independents, Mr Munnalal Goyal of Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party nominee Kedar Singh Vidhuri and Lok Janshakti Party's Phool Singh Baraiya were also in the fray.
Dreaded dacoit Rambabu Gadaria's sister Ramshri Baghel is also in the fray as Rashtriya Samanata Dal nominee.
Aout 14 lakh people are scheduled to exercise their franchise in 1470 polling stations on March 8. The votes will be counted on March 11.
In the faction-ridden Congress in Madhya Pradesh, political compulsions forced Jyotiraditya to campaign for party nominee Ashok Singh, who is considered close to AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh.
For the foreign-educated Yashodhara, her elder sister and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had taken over the campaigning reminding the electorate about the contributions of the late Rajmata.
Considering the by-poll prestigious, state BJP President Narendra Singh Tomar and few state ministers had put up their camp in Gwalior to take on the challenge from Congress.
Even a one-time opponent of palace politics, Jaibhan Singh Pavaiah, former BJP MP, is at the vanguard of BJP canvassers.
Candidature of a Scindia clan member has overshadowed other issues, notwithstanding BJP poll in-charge Kailash Chawla's claim that price rise and neglect of development by the Centre were prime issues.
With Jyotiraditya's entry, BJP campaign managers had changed their strategy and were planning to enlist Vajpayee's support.
Fresh posters with pictures of late Rajamata flanked by her daughters -- Vasundhara and Yashodhara -- have flooded the urban constituency.
On the other hand, Congress posters also bore the pictures of Sonia Gandhi, Arjun Singh, Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Congress nominee Ashok Singh says Gwalior remained neglected even though four MLAs from the area were in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet.
Late Rajmata (Cong) and Vajpayee (Jan Sangh) were earlier elected from Gwalior in 1962 and 1971 respectively. The late Madhavrao Scindia represented the constituency in 1984, 1989 and 1991.
In 1996, the BJP had not fielded its candidate to facilitate the victory of Madhavrao, who was in the fray as a candidate of Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress after the Congress denied him a ticket along with other hawala-tainted leaders.In the previous by-elections in five Assembly and Vidisha Lok Sabha constituencies since the BJP came to power in 2003, the ruling party won all but one seats. Congress won the Balaghat seat.