The Telegraph
Thursday , October 12 , 2017

Scindia clue on voter list


Bhopal, Oct. 11: Jyotiraditya Scindia's wife Priyadarshini has been included as a voter in Madhya Pradesh family pocket-borough Shivpuri, making some wonder whether she would contest next year's state polls and keep a "safe seat" warm for her husband who is tipped to be the Congress's chief ministerial candidate.

Priyadarshini, from the erstwhile Gaekwad royalty of Baroda who had so far been a voter in Delhi, has stayed out of the poll fray but the 42-year-old mother of two has been an active campaigner in all Lok Sabha elections Jyotiraditya has contested since 2001.

Sources close to Priyadarshini - a homemaker and graduate from Mumbai's Sophia College who featured on a prominent fashion and lifestyle magazine's list of 50 most beautiful Indian women a few years ago - say she has addressed many rallies and street-corner meetings.

Priyadarshini had been registered as a voter at 27 Safdargunj Road, New Delhi, the official residence of her husband and four-time MP. Now, she is listed at serial number 727 in the voters' list of Ward Number 38 in Shivpuri town - the summer capital of the erstwhile Scindia empire.

Under election rules, a candidate need not be a registered voter in the particular Assembly segment or parliamentary seat but most contestants use it as a link to the voters. However, one cannot be registered as a voter in two places simultaneously.

The Madhya Pradesh polls are due in November next year, with Jyotiraditya tipped to be the Congress's challenger to BJP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. If he is indeed named the mascot, Jyotiraditya is unlikely to himself contest and could instead bank on a "safe seat" that could be kept for him. Politicians cutting across party lines are known to trust a family member in such situations. Also, the Shivpuri Assembly segment is part of Guna, the parliamentary seat Jyotiraditya currently represents.

There is more to Priyadarshini's shift. The Shivpuri Assembly seat is held by Jyotiraditya's aunt Yashodhara Raje Scindia, a minister in the Chouhan cabinet. The Scindias' have an unwritten rule not to contest and campaign against each other.

In the 2013 Assembly polls, Jyotiraditya had campaigned against his aunt. His pitch for Congress candidate Virendra Raghuvanshi was limited to a short speech and a quick exit that did not alter the outcome. Nonetheless, it broke the family convention.

It is not clear whether Yashodhara would contest the Assembly elections next year from a seat elsewhere or fight the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Gwalior, the seat of the erstwhile Scindia empire and a constituency she has represented as a BJP MP in the past.

Until recently, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was listed as a voter in Lucknow's Bansmandi area despite living in Delhi for decades. The ailing former Prime Minister's name was dropped a few weeks ago from the Lucknow list. It remains to be seen if his name will be added as a voter at 8 Krishna Menon Marg, Delhi, where he lives.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul are registered voters in Delhi while representing the Rae Bareli and Amethi Lok Sabha seats.

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