Bhopal, March 25: Yashodhara Raje Scindia, a minister in the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, today ticked off a party nominee at a public meeting for not showing her mother the same respect that he had shown to Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi.
Turning to Jai Bhan Singh Pawaiya, the BJP candidate from Guna who was seated on the dais, the minister said: “Some persons have collected soil from Rani Lakshmibai’s mausoleum. Such people ought to take soil even from the Rajmata’s samadhi. The Rajmata was not only my mother but the entire BJP’s mother.”
The late Vijayaraje Scindia was a founder member of the BJP.
Pawaiya, a known critic of the Scindias who is pitted against Yashodhara’s nephew and sitting Congress MP Jyotiraditya, left the dais in a huff.
The incident happened at an election campaign rally in Shivpuri, part of the Guna parliamentary seat, where chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP chief Narendra Singh Tomar were present. Yashodhara is the MLA from Shivpuri.
Later, Pawaiya responded to Yashodhara’s remark: “I have always respected Rajmata Scindia and never spoken flippantly regarding her. However, freedom fighters are accorded an exalted position by me. I make a clear distinction between politicians and those who selflessly sacrificed their lives during the country’s freedom struggle.”
Rani Lakshmibai is a heroine of the 1857 war of independence.
In 1998, Pawaiya had contested against Yashodhara’s brother Madhavrao Scindia in Gwalior and lost by a narrow margin. The scare forced Madhavrao to shift to neighbouring Guna in 1999. Pawaiya won as a BJP nominee from Gwalior that year but in subsequent elections the ticket went to Yashodhara.
Any reference to Rani Lakshmibai touches a raw nerve among the Scindias because their ancestors had fought on the side of the British in 1857.
In 2010, the Scindias had protested vehemently when a website of the BJP-ruled Gwalior Municipal Corporation alleged that the then ruler, Jayajirao Scindia, had “betrayed” Rani Lakshmibai by providing her with a “weak horse”.
Further back, in August 2006, Yashodhara’s sister and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje had faced angry protests in Indore when she was invited to unveil a bust of Rani Lakshmibai. Vasundhara dismissed the charge and claimed that “as a woman”, she had the highest regard for Rani Lakshmibai and considered her a “role model”.
Without naming Yashodhara, Pawaiya today said his opposition to the “palace” was well known to everyone. “In Guna-Shivpuri-Gwalior, I have been raising my voice against the mentality of ‘Shrimant’ and ‘Maharaj’. And I do not care if I get support from such quarters,” he said.
Chief minister Chouhan, who spoke at the end, expressed his displeasure at the public spat. When leaders go to the masses, they should go with a burning zeal in their hearts, a calm mind and a sweet tongue, he said. “Janata ke beech mein pair me chakkar, munh mein shakkar, dil mein aag aur dimag shant kar jayen.”