An erstwhile member of the Gwalior royal family, Jyotiraditya Scindia enjoyed power and influence in the area. With the counting of votes tomorrow, Scindia faces a tough battle to keep his prestige and cement a place among the top members of the MP Bharatiya Janata Party. Well, when you consider everything, the by-poll is his fault. After Scindia jumped the Congress ship, he masterminded the fallout that resulted in the downfall of the Kamal Nath government.
With the promise of crores, 22 Congress members followed the pied piper to BJP and became the ‘traitor’ that led to the premature demise of the government. Adding to this three more shifts and three deaths, 28 seats opened for the by-polls of which 16 constituencies are in the Gwalior zone. Therein lies Scindia’s dilemma. While his ‘betrayal’ seems to be profitable, it wasn’t necessarily profitable to him. In fact, it was a risky move.
With the shift to BJP, Jyotiraditya Scindia tarnishes his image and name. He has affected his influence in the state. This is evident from the fact that BJP had not used him for the election campaign outside of the Gwalior region, where he still enjoys some pull. BJP relied on Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Narendra Singh Tomar for the main campaign. This is despite the Scindia insisting that he is a “patriotic soldier of BJP”. In fact, he had even turned Kamal Nath calling him a dog into a dramatic statement: “Yes, I am a dog and the public is my owner. The dog protects its owner.”
Moreover, the move to BJP isn’t exactly profitable for Scindia. The former number three in Madhya Pradesh Congress is now barely in the top 10 of the BJP’s state team. He enjoys little power and influence within the party. For Chouhan and Tomar, Scindia had been a thorn on their side, and now if the latter fails it would be more than profitable for them. The focus had been an exchange of power, however, with the by-poll the plan for a smooth exchange was thrown out of the board. Scindia has one job: deliver the 16 seats in Gwalior. BJP needs at least eight to stay in power.
The 22 MLAs that followed Scindia faces similar trouble. They don’t enjoy a privilege in the party, and if they can’t prove themselves, then they will remain in the backdrop. While exit polls and other surveys predict that he can deliver five-six seats in the Gwalior zone, he would have to do more than that to be in any position to wager. If he loses 10-12 seats, then he will be pushed to the back where Scindia will remain powerless for a long time. With Scindia gone, Kamal Nath becomes the undisputed leader of the state Congress, rising in power as well as influence thanks to the vacuum left by Scindia. However, the latter found no vacuum to fill and if he doesn’t prove by delivering Gwalior and its 16 seats, then he might never get a chance again.