'Scindia did not just come to a new party, it was an ideological shift for him. In the past one and a half years, Scindia never lost communication with RSS leaders in the state. He left no stone unturned to ensure his acceptability in the party.'
Sandeep Kumar reports.
When Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan congratulated Jyotiraditya Scindia on his induction into the Union cabinet, it was not just a customary greeting.
Until a few days ago, Chouhan was worried because Scindia was regularly meeting Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh officials and his detractors in the state.
There was speculation of a leadership change in the state, with Home Minister Narottam Mishra emerging as the main challenger to Chouhan.
Mishra belongs to the Gwalior-Chambal region, which is Scindia’s stronghold.
It was widely expected that from Madhya Pradesh other than Scindia, Kailash Vijayvargiya might secure a berth in the Union Cabinet.
But it was Dalit leader Virendra Khatik who stepped into the space vacated by another Dalit leader Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Seven-time MP Khatik, who managed a comeback into the Union council of ministers after two years, is now the new social justice and empowerment minister.
Bhopal-based journalist Sandeep Pauranik said with the induction of Khatik, the BJP is trying to kill two birds with one stone.
“The BJP was looking for a prominent Dalit face to replace Gehlot. Khatik is an excellent choice. He commands immense respect in the party as well as his constituency, Tikamgarh. The Uttar Pradesh assembly polls are not too far and his elevation will help the BJP woo the Dalit voters in adjoining districts of the neighbouring state," he said.
Khatik is also closely associated with the Gau Seva Sangh.
With this reshuffle of the council of ministers, Scindia has emerged a certain winner.
Scindia, who defected to the BJP with his 22 supporter MLAs last March and brought down the Congress government in the state, had to wait for nearly one and a half years before he got a ministry.
Political commentator Saji Thomas said Scindia had emerged stronger in the BJP and was seeking a role on national level, which he has got now.
“Scindia did not just come to a new party, it was an ideological shift for him. In the past one and a half years, Scindia never lost communication with RSS leaders in the state. He left no stone unturned to ensure his acceptability in the party,” said Thomas.
Scindia not only secured creamy portfolios for his loyalists in the state council of ministers but also asked for a decent rehabilitation of those who lost the bypolls.
That is the reason Chouhan is more relaxed with Scindia getting more engaging work as Union minister.
Scindia vs Tomar
When Scindia joined the BJP, people were wondering whether he would survive here, said a BJP leader.
“Scindia’s elevation will help the party in the Gwalior-Chambal region more. Besides Scindia, two other key leaders are strongly rooted in that region -- Union Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Mishra. If all three work together, the party will benefit,” said the BJP leader.
But political analysts think otherwise.
“This is something easier said than done. Both Tomar and Scindia are dominant leaders in the region. Subsequently, there are local heavyweights like Prabhat Jha and Jai Bhan Singh Pavaiya. We can say political one-upmanship has just begun in the Gwalior-Chambal region,” said Thomas.
The argument holds water because two years ago it was Jha who filed a complaint in the economic offences wing of MP Police, alleging huge bungling in land allotments to trusts run by Scindia.
There are rumours that everything is not all right between Tomar and Scindia.
According to a close aide of Tomar, it all started late last year when Scindia started visiting Tomar’s constituency too often.
“Morena is the constituency of Tomar. There in January this year 25 people died due to consuming spurious liquor. Scindia not only visited the victims’ families but also gave Rs 50,000 each to them.”
Tomar is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Finding a balance between these two is going to remain an arduous task for the BJP.