Congress must keep Scindia in good humour

While the Congress and other parties were busy with the affairs of Maharashtra, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia caused a flutter in Madhya Pradesh by changing his Twitter profile. Scindia deleted all references to his party from his profile, including the fact that he is a former four-time Congress MP and a former minister in the UPA government.

The former MP from Guna changed his Twitter profile to say that he is just a ‘public servant and a cricket enthusiast’. His earlier profile read, “Former Member of Parliament, Guna (2002-19), former minister for power (I/C), MoS, commerce and industries, MoS communications, IT and Posts.”

Media interpreted this as a signal that Scindia was ready to walk out of the Congress and join the BJP. This speculation has been going on since Scindia’s outright support to the Centre’s decision to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution. The scion of the Scindia family, however, termed all these speculations as “baseless”.

In the political circle, the profile change was seen as a manifestation of Scindia’s resentment. The leader has been off and on criticising the Kamal Nath government of the state obliquely as well as directly. “It is not today that I changed my profile. I did it a month ago. Someone from among you must have spotted it today and wove a story around it. I changed it following feedback from Twitter users that I should have a brief bio without mentioning what I have been in the past. Hence the change,” he told the media.

When told that political motives were being attributed to his move, he said, “Sab bakwas hai–rubbish”.  When pointed out that some BJP sympathisers are tweeting that his edited bio indicates that he is no longer with the Congress, Scindia said, “Nonsense. I have only shortened by bio, nothing else”.

State Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza played down the development. “Every person has multiple facets. Perhaps, at this point in time, he is feeling that he is a public servant and a cricket enthusiast. But the best person to say why this change was made is Scindia himself,” she said.

Scindia is said to be unhappy over his perceived neglect by the Congress in Madhya Pradesh. As head of the party’s campaign committee, he had played a key role in bringing the party to power in the 2018 Assembly elections. His shock defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls came as a big setback for him and he has been seeking political rehabilitation since then.

Scindia’s supporters believe that he is the best choice for the presidentship of the MP Congress committee and ministers from his faction have been repeatedly demanding that he should be named as the head of the state Congress. Currently, chief minister Kamal Nath is also the PCC chief.

The BJP seized the opportunity to ‘sympathise’ with Scindia. The party’s state chief spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya said, “Scindia is being neglected by the Congress for quite some time. He wanted to be the PCC chief before the elections. That did not happen. Even now he is asking for the position. But no one is ready to listen to him. Ministers from his camp are being sidelined. They don’t have a say in running the affairs of the state. Scindia has been expressing his anger and disappointment in many ways and this is also part of that.”

Though the controversy caused by the change in the twitter profile has subsided, political observers feel that if the Congress continues to neglect Scindia, it may lead to a major rift within the party. Owing to his defeat in his traditional constituency, a section of Congressmen feel that Scindia is a spent force. But it would be mistake to think so. The Scindias continue to wield massive influence in the area which they ruled before Independence. His followers constitute one-third of the strength of the Congress legislature party. If he decides to part company with the Congress, it would lead to collapse of the Nath government of the state, which is surviving on a razor-thin majority in the Vidhan Sabha.

And after what the BJP tried to pull off in Maharashtra vis a vis Ajit Pawar and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), it would be foolish for the Congress to be in a state of inertia. There is no doubt that what happened in Maharashtra would demoralise the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. Till now, the BJP had been claiming that the Nath government would fall any day. Besides the events in Maharashtra, the BJP’s morale in the state has been damped due to another event—the meeting of a BJP MLA Sharad Kol with Minister Jitu Patwari. After the meeting Patwari, the MLA told media that in the event of a floor test in Madhya Pradesh, his support would depend on “the need of the hour”.

As for the Congress, the success of its state-wide agitation against the Centre for not releasing funds to the state has also boosted the morale of its workers.

By arrangement with IPA

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