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Gwalior faces royal vacuum
- Yashodhara seeks seat shift

Bhopal, Oct. 31: The Scindias may be saying a political goodbye to hometown Gwalior after ruling it for two centuries and then representing it for the better part of five decades after Independence.

Gwalior MP and BJP leader Yashodhara Raje Scindia has sought nomination from the Shivpuri Assembly seat, under the neighbouring Guna parliamentary constituency, for the November 27 polls.

Yashodhara had chosen to shift from Shivpuri to Gwalior, and thus from the Assembly to the Lok Sabha, as recently as March 2007 after the town’s Congress MP was disqualified in the “cash-for-query” scam. A state BJP minister said the party was considering Yashodhara’s request.

“The royals are known for their whims. In December 2003, Yashodhara was elected from Shivpuri and served as a minister but in 2007 she expressed a desire to move to Delhi. We had to struggle to ensure her victory but now she is again keen to leave Gwalior,” he said.

The narrow victory may be a reason why Yashodhara wants to leave, just as another close shave in 1998 had led her late brother, Madhavrao Scindia, to abandon Gwalior for Guna in the 1999 election. The family’s supporters blame the dwindling votes on the voters’ unrealistically high expectations from the Scindias.

The family had ruled Gwalior from the second half of the 18th century till Independence when Maharaja Jivajirao Scindia acceded to India. Gwalior was merged with several other princely states to form Madhya Bharat.

Jivajirao served as the new state’s rajpramukh, or governor, from May 1948 to October 1956 when Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh.

In 1962, his widow, Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia, became Gwalior MP, beginning the family’s career in electoral politics. She was first a Congress member but later joined the BJP.

In 1971, after Vijayaraje had shifted to Guna, her son Madhavrao won from Gwalior on a Congress ticket and served seven terms till 1998. After his death in 2001, his son Jyotiraditya won the Guna byelection and got re-elected in 2004.

The Scindia association, halted from 1999 to 2007, was revived with Yashodhara’s victory in 2007 but now seems poised to be snapped. The other politician from the family, Vasundhara Raje, is Rajasthan chief minister.

Yashodhara and Jyotiraditya, however, never tire of flaunting their “emotional” link with Gwalior. Last year, aunt and nephew had crossed swords over the civic body’s plan to build a 750-metre ropeway from Gwalior fort to the city’s Phoolbagh Garden.

Jyotiraditya opposed the move, saying it would damage the environment at Gwalior fort, the family’s ancestral home, but Yashodhara challenged this. The ropeway plan has been put on hold by the Archaeological Survey of India.

In the next round of the battle, Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel came to the city with Jyotiraditya to inaugurate the then Indian’s Delhi-Gwalior-Bhopal flight.

Yashodhara wrote a letter of protest to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee against the “gross injustice”, wondering why the Guna MP was made guest of honour when he had “nothing to do” with Gwalior.

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