Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot Square Off In Madhya Pradesh Campaign

16 of the seats where bypolls are being held are in the Gwalior-Chambal region that is considered a stronghold of the Scindias, a former royal family.

Sachin Pilot almost "pulled a Scindia" earlier this year when he rebelled against Ashok Gehlot

Jaipur:

Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose defection from the Congress to the BJP is the main trigger for bypolls in 28 Madhya Pradesh seats on November 3, is ranged against his former party as he campaigns in his home turf Gwalior.

16 of the seats where bypolls are being held are in the Gwalior-Chambal region that is considered a stronghold of the Scindias, a former royal family. To stay in power, the BJP needs to win eight more seats in the 230-member assembly. The Congress, if it wins all 28, can make a comeback attempt.

The man that the Congress has fielded as its star campaigner in the region is Sachin Pilot, Mr Scindia's former comrade-in-arms. The two were considered close associates before Mr Scindia's revolt led him out of the Congress.

Mr Pilot almost "pulled a Scindia" earlier this year when he rebelled against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. But after weeks of sulking, Mr Pilot came around after talks with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The Congress leader on Tuesday refused to target his ex-colleague directly even though he is campaigning for his candidates' defeat. "The public knows exactly why these polls are being held. I am campaigning for my party, he is campaigning for his. It is the people who will decide," Mr Pilot told NDTV.

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At Congress rallies, Mr Pilot is being held up as an example of resolving his problems within the party and sticking it out instead of defecting like Mr Scindia. When it was pointed out, the Congress leader again avoided attacking Mr Scindia: "In our party, whatever is to be said and heard, there is a mechanism. I expressed my views, I am happy that the Congress president took note and has charted a path of resolution."

Mr Scindia, asked whether it was turning out to be a Congress versus Congress fight in his domain, said: "This is an election for every worker in the BJP. All party workers and leaders are working unitedly - this is a first for me. When I was in the Congress, there was tremendous factionalism. There is a great deal of discipline in the BJP."

He added that in these bypolls, the "BJP has everything to gain, Congress has everything to lose".