When Vajpayee passed away, Jyotiraditya Scindia immediately cancelled his rally and turned it out into a mourning meet for the former PM. He also flew to Delhi to pay last respects to the man who has been both political opponent and close friend.
Incidentally, the Scindias had often supported the Hindu Mahasabha and later the Bharatiya Jan Sangh – BJP’s precursor.
It all started in 1945 when a 20-year-old Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s education was supported by Jiwajirao Scindia (Jyotiraditya’s grandfather and the erstwhile Maharaja of Gwalior). Jiwajirao had always been deeply fond of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ever since he was a schoolboy.
The late PM had noted in his book: “Jiwajirao Scindia, the Maharaja of Gwalior knew me since my school days. When the question of my higher education was looming large on the family, which was already burdened under the marriage of my two sisters, and limited resources due to retirement of father, the royal family sanctioned me monthly scholarship of Rs 75.”
With that scholarship money, Vajpayee studied in DAV college, Kanpur for his law education where joined the RSS and came close to Deendayal Upadhyaya, laying the seeds for what would become India’s most dominant party right now.
In fact, it’s interesting ponder how different the BJP would’ve been if Jiwajirao hadn’t subsided Vajpayee’s education.
In fact, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was one of the three candidates from the Jan Sangha to defy the Indira wave and win three seats in Gwalior, Guna and Bhind during the 1971 Lok Sabha Elections. The other two winners were Vijayaraje Scindia and Madhavrao Scindia. The latter would later quit and join the Congress.
Madhavrao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee only clashed politically once, in the 1984 Lok Sabha Elections when Madhavrao suddenly picked Gwalior to contest against his family friend. It turned out to be a masterstroke.
Vajpayee, who was already been touted as a potential PM candidate, had hoped Vijayaraje’s influence would help him win the Gwalior seat but Scindia’s sudden move pinned ABV to Gwalior and he failed to win the seat.
He would shift his political journey to Uttar Pradesh instead.
However, the relationship remained intact. When Madhavrao Scindia passed away in 2001, Vajpayee wrote “Lightning has fallen. Can fate be so cruel. My salute.” He visited the funeral in Gwalior personally and even sent Arun Jaitley to accompany Scindia’s body in an Air Force aircraft.
Jyotiraditya Scindia’s return to the BJP fold, where his aunts Vasundhara Raje and Usha Raje are already active, feels like a homecoming of sorts.