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Why BJP welcomed Jyotiraditya Scindia

March 12, 2020 09:33 IST

'The only reason why it has taken him in is to rile the Congress and also to show, yet again, how fleet-footed the saffron camp is when it comes to raiding the pastures of its rivals,' notes Amulya Ganguli.

Jyotiraditya Scindia at the event where he was made a primary member of the Bharatiya Janata Party

IMAGE: Jyotiraditya Scindia at the event on March 11, 2020 where he was made a primary member of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

As Jyotiraditya Scindia makes a 'fresh start', as he said while resigning from the Congress, his new political career in the Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to be as unexceptional and undistinguished as was his stint in the Congress.

If Scindia felt that he was not getting his due which his talents warranted because of the Nehru-Gandhi family's stranglehold on the Congress which did not give much opportunity to others, he is likely to find out soon that the Sangh Parivar is no less domineering than the Congress's First Family.

In fact, the BJP today can be said to be a one-man party with even the supposedly redoubtable Union Home Minister Amit Anilchandra Shah being beholden to Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi for his position and clout, not to mention the Rajnath Singhs and Prakash Keshav Javadekars.

Scindia may get a ministership at the Centre on a par with the likes of Ramvilas Paswan or Harsimrat Kaur and be satisfied with the perks and limited influence which such a position confers.

But it will take time for him tshed his outsider label because of his Congress background although his family has long had other members in the BJP like former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and former Madhya Pradesh minister Yashodhara Raje.

Moreover, Scindia's grandmother Vijayaraje was also in the Jana Sangh and its subsequent avatar, the BJP.

Scindia's father Madhavrao, too, began his political career in the Jana Sangh, but switched to the Congress in 1980 and held important portfolios at the Centre.

Jyotiraditya evidently wanted to follow in his footsteps.

But he stumbled apparently because he did not have his father's stature to be able to hold his own in the mud pit of Madhya Pradesh politics where the Congress had more than its share of heavyweights in Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh.

Arguably, if the Congress at the Centre was not at sixes and sevens, it might have been better able to handle the peevish Jyotiraditya by somehow massaging the ego of this scion of a former princely family who probably still regards himself as a princeling.

But the Congress under its interim chief Sonia Gandhi is too hassled at the moment about who will become the party president -- Rahul or Priyanka (a non-Gandhi cannot either hope or aspire for the position) -- to pay attention to the grumbles of a No 3 in Madhya Pradesh, who could not win in his own constituency of Guna in May 2019.

It may not be too uncharitable to say that Jyotiraditya is destined to be a No 3 or No 4 in any party.

From this standpoint, the BJP will not have any problem in dealing with and accommodating the whims and fancies of this lightweight in the party and the ministry.

The only reason why it has taken him in is to rile the Congress and also to show, yet again, how fleet-footed the saffron camp is when it comes to raiding the pastures of its rivals.

As Jyotiraditya learns that he has to kowtow to the biggies in his new party just as he had to do in the old one, the BJP will wonder how advisable are the various Operation Lotuses which it likes to conduct in various states with Maharashtra apparently being the next target.

The organisational problems which such lateral entries of outsiders cause in the party are obvious, especially when the only objective of the newcomers is known to be to become ministers.

The rumbles in Karnataka after the 'success' of a similar operation are well-known.

Scindia himself may not pose any problem because of his royal tag and also because he will be confined to the Centre and not Madhya Pradesh where Shivraj Singh Chouhan wouldn't have to worry about a rival.

But what of some of Scindia's hangers-on who will drift into the BJP on their master's coat-tails ?

How will the BJP's devoted karyakartas (ordinary workers) react to such intruders who have mostly been reared in a completely different political environment even if the erosion of principles in general have made them susceptible to monetary and other blandishments at the expense of ideologies?

Moreover, the BJP is not on such a strong wicket as at the time of the last general election.

It failed to get a majority in Haryana, lost out in a game of snakes and ladders to a canny combine led by a former ally in Maharashtra, and lost outright in Jharkhand and Delhi.

The economy continues to slide, the Shaheen Bagh blockade shows no sign of being lifted and the international media is becoming increasingly more shrill in the denunciation of the Indian government.

Jyotiraditya may well wonder whether he has jumped from a sinking ship to one which is barely afloat.

Amulya Ganguli is a writer on current affairs.