Congress Vs Scindia? Denial From Him But Chasm Is Widening

We know two things at the moment. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Congress leader and former royal has removed all traces of his party from his Twitter bio. It now simply describes him as "public servant" and "cricket enthusiast". Earlier, the bio went in to some detail over his career as a former MP from Guna and his ministerial stints.

Scindia says his truncated intro to the world is intended to keep his bio short and simple and should not be interpreted as a falling out with the Congress. "It was done a month ago to keep my bio short and simple...I pity the people speculating over it," he told me today. "I am a worker of the Congress party and I have the blood of my father Madhavrao Scindia. I have never hankered after any post in my 17-year career".


Jyotiraditya Scindia's earlier bio on Twitter

That clarification on not jousting for any appointment comes as there is increasing chatter about who will take over as chief of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, one of the few states where the Congress has held onto power and where infighting between a trio of strong leaders threatens the party.

The government is helmed by Kamal Nath as Chief Minister; Digvijaya Singh, former chief minister, allegedly runs matters, though, insist his supporters; and Scindia, who lost a bid against Kamal Nath to become Chief Minister, has been contemplating quitting the party, according to his detractors.

It is au courant in Indian politics leaders sulking, angry or otherwise to communicate their Mann Ki Baat to the media, estranged relatives (example, Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule) and their own party, via social media, especially Twitter. So the speculation that Scindia is sending a telegraph to the Congress in 30 characters or less is justified.


Jyotiraditya Scindia has been a vocal critic of his own party's government, led by Chief Minister Kamal Nath, over the past few months

Just this month, the Congress, by winning the Jhabua seat in a by-election managed to reach a simple majority of 115 in the Madhya Pradesh legislature. The BJP has 107 members, so the Congress' grip is anything but secure and any rebellion, overt or otherwise, by Scindia and his supporters will spell disaster.

However, several senior Madhya Pradesh leaders who I spoke to for this column dismissed any threat to the Kamal Nath government by Scindia loyalists (about 10 legislators are believed to hold unshakeable allegiance to him).

Said one mockingly "Forget 15, Maharaj (dig at Scindia's royal heritage) won't even have two MLAs. A man who has lost his base just wants to find a reason to defect to the BJP. Don't forget most of his family is in the BJP. We know he is in touch with Amit Shah, a relationship that was facilitated by the late Arun Jaitley," said one party leader.


Priyanka Gandhi Vadra with Jyotiraditya Scindia (File photo)

As with most things currently in the Congress, it's extremely complicated. I had earlier described Scindia in a column here as one of the lost boys, a follower of Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up. Rahul Gandhi, ex-congress President is Peter Pan, and the lost boys are the leaders whose own careers have stalled as a result of RG's half-hearted leadership.

Scindia is a close friend of Gandhi, yet has been upset since the party opted to make Kamal Nath the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh in December last year. He has gone public with his ire many times, including publicly differing with RG on the matter of the removal of Article 370 in Kashmir, but the party has chosen to largely ignore him.

While he has not fully burnt his bridges with the Congress, Scindia has clearly upped the ante because he wants to be made local Congress chief, a post still held by Kamal Nath, as also a Rajya Sabha seat to make his way back to parliament.


Jyotiraditya Scindia is seen to be in a sulk ever since he was denied chief ministership in Madhya Pradesh

Kamal Nath, who is privy to Scindia's sulk over his complete eclipse in the MP power equation, had earlier met Sonia Gandhi, interim Congress president, over the post of MP's Congress chief, but, as a senior Congress leader points out, sometimes no decision is also a decision - par for the course in the Congress.

Confused? Don't be. In the Byzantine durbar politics of the Congress, Scindia has legendary rivalry with former Digvijaya Singh who still has a huge command over the party apparatus and who has vetoed Scindia for state chief.

Gandhi is just trying to balance the triangular battle. Scindia supporters say that he should be made state chief to safe-guard his camp. This is also a panic response as Singh has muscled out Scindia from his Gwalior bastion. Singh is a huge supporter of Kamal Nath and is referred to as "super CM" in Bhopal.


Jyotiraditya Scindia's resentment with his leadership is all but public (File photo)

Scindia's struggles mirrors the power struggle of most of the Young Turks versus the old guard of the Congress. A similar story is being played out in Rajasthan with repeated clashes between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot. Rahul Gandhi, who has just returned from a "meditation" sojourn abroad, continues to sulk and the old Congress guard continues to eat the young leaders for lunch.

If the Congress manages to finally form the government in alliance with the Shiv Sena and Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra, the old guard will continue to call the shots. All the jibes on social media notwithstanding.

(Swati Chaturvedi is an author and a journalist who has worked with The Indian Express, The Statesman and The Hindustan Times.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.