Madhavrao Scindia, who died in a plane crash on Sunday, carved a niche for himself -- be it in politics, government or in cricket administration.
The former maharaja of Gwalior began his parliamentary career as a Jan Sangh candidate, his mother Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia's party. He easily won the Guna seat in the 1971 election, winning 69 percent of the vote. Not even the Indira Gandhi wave of 1971 could halt the 26-year-old Scindia's march to victory.
Six years later he contested the next general election as an independent, defeating the Janata Party candidate. He was already moving away from his mother's political moorings, towards the Congress where he would spend the last quarter century of his life.
Scindia contested subsequent general elections -- 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1999 -- either from Guna or
Gwalior in his family's domain, winning them all. In recent elections though, his margin of victory declined steadily.
A consistent winner for the Congress from Madhya Pradesh, he registered the proudest moment of his electoral career when he vanquished the Bharatiya Janata Party's Atal Bihari Vajpayee by over 200,000 votes in Gwalior in 1984. Scindia switched to Gwalior -- he had contested three earlier general elections from Guna -- just before nominations closed, leaving Vajpayee no chance to change his constituency.
Scindia's political graph soared following his able handling of the railway portfolio in Rajiv Gandhi's government. He was responsible for introducing casserole food on Indian trains, replacing the thali system that was considered unhygenic.
Aviation minister in the Narasimha Rao government, Scindia resigned, taking moral responsibility after a leased Uzbek TU-154 plane crashed in Delhi on December 5, 1992.
Two years later, he made a comeback, taking over the human resources portfolio, vacated by his old rival in Madhya Pradesh politics, Arjun Singh.
Often spoken of as Rao's successor as prime minister, Scindia's career took a tumble five months before the 1996 general election. In January 1996, the Jain hawala scandal broke. He resigned from the government after his name
allegedly figured in the Jain diaries, recording illicit payments made to Indian politicians.
Rao denied him a parliamentary nomination for the 1996 general election, compelling Scindia to break away from the Congress and contest the election as a Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress candidate. Scindia won the election from Gwalior, defeating the Congress candidate.
He returned to the Congress fold after Rao resigned as party president and was one of Congress president Sonia Gandhi's closest advisers until his death on Sunday.
Agencies, rediff Political Bureau
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