The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) political prospects in Madhya Pradesh and on the national level will get a boost immensely with the entry of Jyotiraditya Scindia, the former Congress general secretary and one of the party's most prominent youth faces.
Scindia was officially inducted into the BJP at the party's headquarters in New Delhi on Wednesday. The Chief Election Committee of the BJP, meanwhile, announced its backing for Scindia for the elections to Rajya Sabha, to be held on March 26.
The 49-year-old former Lok Sabha parliamentarian from Guna and the titular king of the erstwhile Gwalior state, Scindia until just last year was among Congress party's top leaders. The resignation of former Congress President Rahul Gandhi from the top party position culminated over time in veterans like Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot shoving themselves through on centre stage. Rahul's lieutenants, including Scindia, Rajasthan's deputy CM Sachin Pilot, former Congress leader in Haryana Ashok Tanwar, among others began to be sidelined.
In Madhya Pradesh at least, a defeat-weary Congress reaped the dividends of Scindia's sway over local politics during the campaigning for the state elections in 2018. Widely tipped to be the chief ministerial face in the lead-up to the election, Scindia was later sidelined in favour of old-time loyalist of the Gandhi family Kamal Nath. It won't we entirely inaccurate to say that Digvjiaya Singh, another heavyweight of the state Congress, joined forces with Nath to deny Scindia a shot at a bigger role in government or in the state organisation.
"I am tendering my resignation from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress, and as you well know, this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last one year," said Scindia's resignation letter, shared on his social media accounts on Sunday morning.
What does BJP gain
The very fact that Scindia has called upon Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda and no less than the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is indicative of the importance that the party attaches to Scindia's entry to the saffron fold.
Political observers say that not only Scindia, even his vast number of supporters in the party as well as among the general public felt cheated like him after Kamal Nath was "installed" as the chief minister.
Along with Scindia, no less than 30 Congress legislators could resign in a veiled show of support for the former MP, as claimed by a close aide of Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former state minister Bhupendra Singh.
For the BJP, a face like Scindia will be a definite respite that would give it political fodder to take on a Congress-backed opposition, which has been targeting it over the riots and the economy. In fact, Congress's attack could be significantly toned down with a loss of face like Scindia.
It is expected that a push towards handing over the political baton to the next generation of leaders in Congress may begin. While Scindia might be getting a union cabinet berth and a Rajya Sabha seat as a "welcome gift" for switching to the BJP, he might be vying for the CM's chair in Madhya Pradesh in the medium to longer-term, say political observers.
Having his own band of supporters who have been loyal to Gwalior royal family, Scindia's role would only get bigger over time.
"While my aim and purpose remain the same as it has always been, from the very beginning, to serve the people of my state and the country, I believe I am unable to do this anymore within this party," read Scindia's resignation letter.
Further, the inclination of the royal family towards the Hindu Mahasabha before Independence cannot be overlooked.
In fact, a senior journalist who hails from Madhya Pradesh, says that many of Scindia's supporters used to see him as a PM candidate even while in Congress.
As far as Congress is concerned, the resignation of Scindia could kickstart a wave of protests across the organisation, especially among young leaders, who have been getting restive in other states, like Rajasthan and even Punjab.
Pilot, who has been credited with reviving Congress in Rajasthan, was kept out of power in favour of another Gandhi loyalist Ashok Gehlot. His supporters could get restive in the coming days and call on him to demand a stronger representation in the state politics.
The only viable alternative to Congress, as was shown in 2014 and 2019, is the BJP, which may well aggressively woo these disenchanted leaders into the fold.