"Welcome Maharaj": Shivraj Chouhan On Jyotiraditya Scindia Joining BJP

Once seen as one of Rahul Gandhi's closest aides, Jyotiraditya Scindia left the Congress in Madhya Pradesh in chaos on Tuesday afternoon after quitting the party

'Welcome Maharaj': Shivraj Chouhan On Jyotiraditya Scindia Joining BJP

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan welcomed Jyotiraditya Scindia to the BJP

New Delhi:

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan welcomed Jyotiraditya Scindia to the BJP "family" this evening with a short tweet in Hindi that said: "Welcome maharaj, from Shivraj".

The tweet was simultaneously a reference to the former Congress leader's royal heritage and the election slogan the BJP used during Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls in 2018, when it targeted Mr Scindia with: "Hamara neta Shivraj, maaf karo maharaj (Our leader is Shivraj, forgive us maharaj)".

"If there was anyone in Congress who was popular, it was maharaj, so we used to say this. Ab maharaj aur Shivraj ek hain BJP mein (now maharaj and Shivraj are one in BJP)," Shivraj Singh Chouhan told news agency ANI.

"It is a joyous day for BJP and me, personally. Today, I remember Rajmata (Queen Mother, Vijaya Raje) Scindia-ji. Jyotiraditya Scindia has become a member. Yashodhara-ji (Mr Scindia's aunt) is here with us. The entire family is with BJP. They have a tradition where politics is the medium to serve people," Mr Chouhan added after Mr Scindia was inducted into the BJP by party President JP Nadda.

Once seen as one of Rahul Gandhi's closest aides, Jyotiraditya Scindia, 49, left the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh in chaos after quitting the party he joined nearly two decades ago. His resignation, along with that of 21 MLAs, has left the Kamal Nath government in the state on the edge of collapse; it is currently five MLAs short of the new majority mark of 104.

At BJP headquarters today, Mr Scindia hit out at the Congress for "living in denial" and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for "welcoming me into their family". A fortnight ago he was fiercely critical of the BJP during the Delhi violence for "spreading the politics of hate".

"I was hurt and distressed as I was not able to serve the people in my previous organization," Jyotiraditya Scindia, addressing his first press conference as a BJP leader, said.

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Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the BJP in Delhi today in the presence of party chief JP Nadda

Last week sources told NDTV BJP MLA Narottam Mishra and Shivraj Singh Chouhan were involved in a plot to unsettle the Madhya Pradesh government. The BJP, sources said, named the operation "Rangpanchami" because they wanted the government to fall on Holi.

Mr Chouhan, who has served three previous terms as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, has been tipped to return should the BJP succeed in toppling the Congress.

However, sources told NDTV today that a fight erupted on Tuesday evening between their supporters. According to sources, slogans in support of Mr Mishra were chanted while questions were raised over Mr Chouhan's role in the Madhya Pradesh chaos.

Both Mr Mishra and Mr Chouhan have repeatedly denied any role in the current situation, saying that it merely reflects the Congress's inner problems.

The Madhya Pradesh government crisis was sparked on Tuesday after Mr Scindia's resignation a number of MLAs were flown to BJP-ruled Karnataka a day earlier.

In his letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Mr Scindia spoke of a "fresh start" and said: "...this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year". The Congress expelled him minutes later.

Mr Scindia, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah shortly before, had long been unhappy with senior Congress leadership.

The Congress has denied Mr Scindia's perceived diminished say in party matters led to his revolt. Senior party leader and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh said "he was not at all sidelined" and, in a sarcastic swipe, wished Mr Scindia well "under ModiShah tutelage".

 A defiant Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has said his government will survive this crisis.

With input from ANI

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