Bhopal, Sept. 3: The Congress in election-bound Madhya Pradesh presented a united face on Sunday but in their enthusiasm to court Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, party members violated AICC guidelines on the use of honorifics and royal titles.
The venue of the Congress meet was Morena in the Chambal region of the state, a Scindia citadel. Speaker after speaker, ranging from AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh to MP Satyavrat Chaturvedi and a host of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee office-bearers and local Congress MLAs, referred to Scindia as “maharaja” and “shrimant” (highness).
Each time Digvijaya or others addressed Scindia as “maharaja”, AICC general secretary in charge of the state Mohan Prakash squirmed in his seat. Prakash’s discomfort had perhaps more to do with his former socialist leanings. He was with the Janata Dal before he joined the Congress.
On June 16, 2009, Sonia Gandhi had banned the mention of royal titles that some of her party members like Scindia were still using. The Congress president had directed all former rajas, maharajas and maharanis in the Congress to shed their royal honorifics, asking that the mention of royal titles be purged from the Congress’s official records.
The development had come in the wake of stories doing rounds then that the surest way of bagging a quick appointment with Scindia was to refer to him as “maharaja”. Even his father, the late Madhavrao Scindia, loved the sound of the word “maharaja” and in his election meetings often addressed the electorate as “Gwalior ki praja (subjects)”.
The Morena meet also saw Scindia supporters once again lobbying for his candidature as the chief ministerial nominee.
Rajya Sabha MP Chaturvedi was heard telling Congress workers: “I know what you want to hear and I am saying it. The responsibility of making a Congress government in Madhya Pradesh should be given to a young leader. If only a young leader can pilot the party at the moment, it will get the necessary boost. If the Congress comes to power, it will give the state a young, honest, untainted, energetic leader to head the government.”
This time, too, Prakash was spotted without a smile.
Scindia has been fancying himself as the Congress’s face against Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Today he was made the head of the party’s campaign committee in the state.
Although the overriding message in the composition of the committee is unity as leaders from every camp has been accommodated, the choice of young Scindia as the chairman of the campaign committee showed the advent of Rahul Gandhi era in the party.
Last month, when Chaturvedi and Union minister Kamal Nath had named Scindia as the party’s chief ministerial candidate, Prakash had quickly distanced himself saying: “It is not the Congress custom or tradition to project anyone as chief ministerial nominee. We have not named anyone, nor do we intend to do it in the near future. Such remarks are avoidable.”
Although the Morena meet theme-song was unity, differences among senior leaders were visible. Digvijaya chose to sit away from the galaxy of regional satraps like Scindia, Suresh Pachauri, Kamal Nath, Chaturvedi, Kantilal Bhuria, Ajay Singh and Arun Yadav. When Prakash noticed it, he signalled to Scindia to bring Digvijaya to the front row.
In his speech, Digvijaya twice addressed Scindia as “maharaja” and went on telling the gathering about a media team that the Union power minister brought from New Delhi to ensure “good coverage”. It immediately wiped the smile off Scindia’s face.