MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Monday, 17 June 2024

Madhya Pradesh: Cong Scindia versus BJP Scindia 

'We are voting for Maharaj. He was always popular but lost last time because the wind was with Modiji. Now he can’t lose as they are together'

Pheroze L. Vincent Guna Published 06.05.24, 05:30 AM
Wall graffiti of the BJP at Mahidpur village in Madhya Pradesh refers to Scindia by his ‘royal’ title ‘Shrimant’.

Wall graffiti of the BJP at Mahidpur village in Madhya Pradesh refers to Scindia by his ‘royal’ title ‘Shrimant’. Picture by Pheroze L Vincent

Life has taken a 180-degree turn for Jyotiraditya Scindia.

He had won his first election — a bypoll from Guna after his father and sitting MP Madhavrao died in an air crash — for the Congress in 2002 defeating local BJP stalwart Rao Deshraj Singh Yadav.

ADVERTISEMENT

Today, Scindia is the BJP candidate and Yadav’s son Yadvendra is the Congress nominee.

This makes little difference to voters in Guna, where the contest has usually been between the Scindia royal family of Gwalior and one of their former subjects.

Rarely has a commoner won, as happened in 2019 when Scindia’s former aide K.P. Yadav fought on a BJP ticket and defeated him. The tide had turned, and Scindia jumped ship and joined the BJP in 2020.

The BJP has replaced Yadav with Scindia as its candidate this time, and the weathervane MP’s family has thrown itself into the job, with his wife and son campaigning as well.

The top Congress leaders — Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi — have not campaigned here and the party's lacklustre campaign is focused on local civic issues, which are aplenty.

Scindia, however, is being held to account for not just what he represents today but also what he had promised in the past.

"We are voting for Maharaj. He was always popular but lost last time because the wind was with Modiji. Now he can’t lose as they are together," Tulsi Ram Lodhi, a farmer from Kadesara village in Ashoknagar district, told The Telegraph.

"But he should remember the promise of an agricultural loan waiver of up to 2 lakh that he made when he was with the Congress. The interest today is higher than the principal we borrowed."

Lodhi added: “We get some water from a canal but our crops are mostly dependent on the rain. The groundwater is below 150 feet here and our power bills, as well as generator fuel costs, are high because of this. (Former BJP chief minister) Shivraj Chouhan understood why we are in a debt trap but (incumbent BJP chief minister) Mohan Yadav doesn’t seem to understand anything.”

Rahul Goswami, who owns a motorcycle showroom at Miyana village in Guna district, told this newspaper: “Scindiaji has a good image, and he lost last time because he was in the wrong party. But there is some anger among the BJP workers, a few of whom are trying to sabotage his campaign.”

He added: “We need a college here as many girls want to study after Class XII and parents are apprehensive about sending them 28km away every day to study in Guna (town). Landgrab is also a problem here, and some police officers and politicians are in cahoots with the encroachers.”

Conversations with voters here usually begin with a declaration of allegiance to the “Maharaj”, who has striven hard to live up to the legacy of his father and Congress stalwart Madhavrao Scindia.

Irrespective of whom the voters eventually choose, they take pride in recalling when Scindia and his family last visited their village. In the same breath they also complain about basic necessities — the absence of reliable pathological labs outside the towns, the migration of their sons for work, the crippling inflation, and so on.

Guna votes on May 7

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT