Welcoming Jyotiraditya Scindia into the BJP, senior party leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday said he was the most popular Congress politician in Madhya Pradesh, which led the saffron outfit to coin a tagline targeting the erstwhile Gwalior royal in the 2018 state polls. In the run-up to the November 2018 assembly elections, the BJP had centred its campaign around a slogan, Maaf karo Maharaj hamara neta toh Shivraj (Sorry Maharaj, our leader is Shivraj)" to take on the Congress. Chouhan was then the BJP chief minister and was seeking a fourth term in office.
Scindia (49), a member of the royal family that once ruled Gwalior, is popularly known as Maharaj among his supporters.
Asked how he will feel now to work with Scindia whom the BJP targeted during the assembly polls campaign, Chouhan said, If anyone was popular among Congress leaders, it was Maharaj, so we used 'Maaf karo Maharaj' slogan. Now Shivraj and Maharaj are together in the BJP."
Chouhan, the BJPs national vice-president, was talking to reporters here after Scindia joined the saffron outfit in the presence of its president J P Nadda in Delhi.
The former chief minister defended Scindia's decision to leave the Congress, a party with which he was associated for nearly two decades.
"The disgruntlement of Maharaj (Scindia) with the Congress is justified," the BJP leader said.
"This is a joyous day for the BJP and me personally. Today, I remember (his grandmother) Rajmata (Vijaya Raje) Scindia. Jyotiraditya Scindia has become a member of the BJP family.
"The entire (Scindia) family is with BJP. They have a tradition where politics is a medium to serve people," Chouhan said.
Another BJP leader and former minister Narottam Mishra said Scindia was "backbone" of the Congress in the state. Nothing is left in the state Congress now. They should now rest for another 15-20 years," Mishra said, taking a crack at the beleaguered ruling party.