There has been a lot of theories flying around trying to decipher why Jyotiraditya Scindia finally said enough is enough and quit the Congress after 18 long years.
Incidentally, he was the last Scindia family member to be part of the Congress. Vasundhara Raje, Yashodhara Raje and Dushyant Singh (Vasundhra’s son) are all members of the BJP.
Yashondhara Raje called it a Ghar Wapsi hailing the Rajmata’s blood for taking a call for the nation. Incidentally, Vijayaraje, often called the Rajmata of Gwalior, (and the mother of Vasundhara and Yashodhara) was one of the founding members of the BJP and helped it get a foothold.
Her son Madhavrao was earlier a member of the Bharatiya Jan Sangha before he made a clean break with the party and switched to Congress.
So, what was the straw that broke the camel's back?
Distrust and threat to Rahul
Firstly, Scindia was perceived as being too close to the Gandhis. He was almost Rahul Gandhi’s wingman in the Lok Sabha and shared an office with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as UP West Election in-charge (PGV had UP East). It wasn’t a position that meant anything to him, given that he held no sway over that state.
Many Congress commentators in the past had put Scindia as an example of a leader who could be Congress President if the Gandhis abdicated, and that seemed to have counted against him as he was perceived as someone who would become a threat to Rahul Gandhi if he became successful. The word in the corridors of power was that he was chosen above Kamal Nath simply because the latter wouldn’t be perceived as a threat to Rahul Gandhi. Despite the 1984 taint, Kamal Nath was picked over his younger counterpart. The threat to Rahul Gandhi may be one of the reasons.
His wait went on too long
When he was denied the CM post in 2018, he had told News 18 he was willing to wait for something bigger and better. The wait, like Godot, came to naught.
Not only was he not offered the Madhya Pradesh Congress Chief’s post, he wasn’t even offered a Rajya Sabha seat. In fact, according to a report by NDTV, Kamal Nath pitched the Rajya Sabha seat for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra so the latter could hold on to her Lutyens’ bungalow.
Digvijaya Singh also wanted to continue his term in Rajya Sabha and an RS seat and a cabinet berth is reportedly the olive branch the BJP is offering Scindia.
Incidentally, Jyotiraditya’s father had lost out the CM post to Digvijaya Singh – who remains in the thick of things.
Being blocked out by Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath
Scindia was also blocked out by Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath, where according to a report in The Print, Scindia said even his demand for ‘transfer of officials was being rejected’. There was a royal bug at play between Digvijaya Singh and Scindia, since the latter often addressed the former by his first name. Digvijaya’s father was the Raja of Rajogarh and he felt his royal lineage wasn’t given the respect it deserved.
Scindia was also perturbed by the Congress’ tilt on several national issues. He was one of the first Congress leaders to break rank and praise the abrogation of Article 370. A Congress functionary told The Print that Scindia saw ‘no hope for the party or himself’.
The diagnosis isn’t completely without merit for the nation's only pan-India party except BJP. In states where the Congress was traditionally strong, they seem to have outsourced winning to other regional parties. They are not even the big partners in most states, letting Sharad Pawar call the shots in Maharashtra or Hemant Soren in Jharkhand.
Only time will tell if Scindia made the right move. While the BJP stands poised to gain a leader whose family has deep ties with their political Hindutva movement, they will also wonder if Scindia’s influence will extend beyond the Gwalior region. They will also remember that Jyotiraditya’s father had quit to form his own party only to return to the fold. Lest we forget, Scindia was also badly beaten by a former aide in Guna in 2019, a seat has family has always held whenever they contested.
As of now, Scindia’s arrival will help topple the Kamal Nath government but whether Scindia becomes a long-term asset like Himanta Biswa Sarma is something only time will tell.