On Tuesday, as the nation celebrated Holi, the scion of one of India’s royal families finally quit the Congress party. Ironically, it came on the day Jyotiraditya Scindia’s father and former Congress MP Madhavrao Scindia was born.
Jyotiradtiya Scindia was born on Jan 1, 1971. Unlike his father, he didn’t study at The Scindia School, instead being educated at Campion School in Gwalior and then The Doon School, Dehradun.
He graduated with an BA Degree in Economics from Harvard College and has an MBA from Stanford University. He got married to Priyadarshini Raje in 1994 and the couple have one son and one daughter.
He first contested his first Lok Sabha election in the 2002 bypoll after his father tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in 2001.
Scindia comfortably won the Guna Lok Sabha seat and would win it time and again before losing to BJP’s Krishna Pal Singh Yadav in 2019.
Ironically, Scindia’s wife Priyadarshini Raje had mocked KP Yadav for trying to click a selfie with her husband, a thoroughly stupid comment in the time when egalitarianism is the buzzword all around.
He was also the Minister of Power (Independent Charge) from 2012 to 2014 in the UPA II government led by Manmohan Singh.
Before his crushing loss, he was seen as a rising star in the Congress, a part of Rahul Gandhi’s Rat Pack of Young Turks. He was also one of Rahul Gandhi's closest aides and they would even dine together in Delhi.
Scindia, along with Sachin Pilot, Deepinder Hooda and Milind Deora were seen as the next lot of leaders who were going to take over from the old guard but have found their fortunes reversed after BJP’s huge wins in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.
Jyotiraditya’s defection to the BJP will be seen as a huge loss, given his proximity to Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
However, Scindia’s star has been on the wane since he lost out the battle for political supremacy to his older rival Kamal Nath, who is backed by the so-called super CM Digvijaya Singh.
While Congress won 2018 Assembly Election in Madhya Pradesh, both Scindia and Nath had told people in their respective constituencies that they’d be picked as CM. When Congress managed to do a shade better than BJP, who had ruled for four terms since 2003, mostly with Shivraj Singh Chouhan as CM, Scindia had hoped to pick up the top job.
After all, Kamal Nath also had the 1984 taint, but the wily senior leader was picked above the younger Scindia.
The two have been at loggerheads ever since and the smart money was on Scindia breaking away from the party sooner rather than later.
How much is he worth?
In his election affidavit in 2019, he had said that he had properties worth Rs 20 crore, including a palace that he inherited.
He also owns a 1960-model BMW car, which is also part of his inheritance, according to his affidavit filed along his nomination papers for the Guna-Shivpuri constituency, from where he is the MP.
Scindia's ancestral property includes Jai Vilas, spread over 40 acres, in Gwalior, as well 19-acre land in Maharashtra's Shrigonda and 43 acres in Limban village. Also, there is Rani Mahal, Hiranvan Kothi, Racquet Court, Shantiniketan, Choti Vishranti, Vijay Bhavan, Picnic Spot, and other residential properties. Their total value is assessed at Rs 2,970,048,500.
He also owns two properties in Mumbai's Samudra Mahal and their market value is Rs 319,770,000.
Incidentally, he leases out Samudra Mahal to Yes Bank co-founder Rana Kapoor who has been arrested by the ED.
He declared that he has fixed deposits amounting to Rs 30,187,000 and Rs 33,339,827 in movable assets. In his income tax return for the previous financial year, he declared his annual income at Rs 15,156,720 and his wife Priyadarshni Raje's income at Rs 250,400.
In his affidavit, Scindia said that the annual income from his ancestral property is Rs 467,410. He also owns jewellery weighing 2,066 gm valued at Rs 86,853,219.
Keeping up with the Scindias
The Scindias are an influential family in the Gwalior region, even though they haven’t always been on Congress’ side. They own several palatial homes and also run the century-old Scindia School, considered one of India’s premium boarding schools for boys.
The first Scindia to take a political plunge was Vijayaraje Scindia, known universally as Rajmata who set up the Scindia Kanvya Vidyalaya.
Vijayaraje Scindia (birthname: Lekhya Devi) was married to Jiwaji Rao Scindia, the erstwhile ruler of Gwalior and they had five children. Of them Madhavrao Scindia (Jyotiraditya’s father), Vasundhara Raje (former Rajasthan CM) and Yashondhara Raje, were active in politics.
Vijayaraje first contested the Lok Sabha elections in 1957 when she won the Guna Lok Sabha seat and five years later won the Gwalior seat, from the Congress party. She would later quit the Congress.
Later, she won the Guna seat with a Swatantra Party ticket in 1967, before joining the Bharaitya Jan Sangh, the precursor to the BJP.
In 1971, Vijayaraje defied the Indira Gandhi wave and helped Bharatiya Jan Sangh win three seats in the Gwalior region – Gwalior, Guna and Bhind.
The other two winners were former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and her son Madhavrao Scindia.
Vijayaraje would later spend time in jail during the Emergency, sharing a cell with another royal figure – Gayatri Devi.
While her son Madhavrao would eventually return to the Congress fold, Vijayaraje became one of the leading figures of the BJP giving legitimacy to the party. She would retain the Guna seat in 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1998.
A public dispute with Madhavrao occurred in the 1970 who would later participate in an epic clash of the titans with Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1984 Lok Sabha. The Scindias and Vajpayee also had a long relationship, starting when Jyotiraditya’s father subsided his education.
While Vijayaraje only lost one election, to Indira Gandhi in Rae Bareli, Madhavrao Scindia – a nine-time member of Lok Sabha, never lost an election.
At one point, Madhavrao was even considered a rival to Sonia Gandhi for the Congress president’s post and former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh noted that he could’ve been PM as well.
He passed away in a tragic helicopter accident in 2001.
Interestingly, other than Jyotiraditaya Scindia all other prominent members of the Scindia family were already part of BJP. Vasundhara Raje, Yasondhara Raje, Vasundhara’s son Dushyant are all members of the BJP. Jyotiraditya’s homecoming is perhaps the final pack in the card, which could see the Kamal Nath government topple and a Doon School-educated MP from BJP in the Rajya Sabha.
(With inputs from IANS)