With Jyotiraditya Scindia formally joining the BJP in the presence of JP Nadda, the Congress palace intrigue has reached a conclusive stage, at least for now. Sources close to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi reveal that Scindia’s “too much bullying and blackmailing” soured his relationship with the party high-command. MP state leadership, including CM Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh and Congress General Secretary Dipak Babaria, asked the Gandhis to call Scindia’s bluff. Apparently, Scindia had been blackmailing the Gandhis that he would “reveal” damning information about them if he’s not given the Rajya Sabha seat and the Madhya Pradesh Pradesh Congress Committee president position.
Sources also add that the BJP gave Scindia a deadline of sorts. “It is their modus operandi during every Rajya Sabha nomination time.” It is also being speculated that the BJP might have lured the Scindia scion with promises beyond the Rajya Sabha berth.
Did Jyotiraditya Scindia Overplay His Hand?
Congress party sources say that Scindia was impatient and belligerent. Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were supposed to have travelled to the US earlier this month. Sonia had told Scindia that they would talk after her return, which was supposed to be 11 March. However, that trip got cancelled ostensibly due to the covid-19 scare. As the trip got cancelled, Scindia grew further impatient and insisted on a meeting immediately.
Sources also reveal that Scindia wasn't denied the Rajya Sabha berth by the Congress. He was told on 7 March that the party has conceded to his demand. This was conveyed to him by senior party leader KC Venugopal. It is also revealed that Kamal Nath had also, finally, agreed to give him the MP PCC president post.
Three Key Meetings in Six Months
Three important meetings happened in the past six months, that can be considered crucial in the light of the current developments. The first meeting took place at Shobhana Bhartia's house at a private dinner hosted by her around six months ago. Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia were together there. Sources reveal that this alleged “peace-brokering” dinner ended in a bitter fight where the three Congress leaders even exchanged unparliamentary phrases. Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh are said to have left even before the dinner was served, while Scindia stayed on.
The second meeting happened between Kamal Nath and Scindia in December in Sonia Gandhi’s presence. Kamal Nath was unrelenting and refused to make any concessions for Scindia.
In January, Kamal Nath and Sonia Gandhi met again to discuss a plan for Scindia. This is when the MP CM relented to give the PCC president post to Scindia. He also did not object to the Rajya Sabha nomination. He only wanted to space these appointments out so it did not seem that Scindia had “won”. This was a significant development since till this moment, Kamal Nath had only made a reluctant concession that Scindia could have either Rajya Sabha seat or PCC president post.
Jyotiraditya’s Disagreements with the Congress Did Not Appear Overnight
Scindia’s disagreements with the Congress party have been a matter of speculation. Not so long ago, he had altered his Twitter bio, much to the amusement of politics watchers across the ideological spectrum. He is also said to have reached out to other ‘young turks’ of the party namely RPN Singh, Jitin Prasad and Milind Deora.
Jyotiraditya Scindia’s wife, Priyadarshini Raje Scindia, a member of the erstwhile Baroda royal family is said to have played an important role in the negotiations with the BJP. Her parents, Samarsinh Gaekwad the Maharaja of Baroda, has also said to have been active behind the scenes. Sources reveal that Scindia’s “Gujarat connection” has worked in his favour while negotiating with the BJP high command.
BJP sources share that Scindia’s switch is important for the ruling party in Delhi as it weakens the Congress further. Other leaders, old or young, may feel encouraged to quit the party. His exit also has a great symbolic value.
Does BJP Benefit From Accepting Scindia?
BJP sources also reveal that the party also benefits because Scindia was also one of Rahul Gandhi's main advisors. Upon being asked as to why Scindia quit the Congress despite Venugopal's assurance, BJP sources say that Venugopal’s word has no credibility and Scindia knows it rather well. Neither Sonia nor Rahul personally confirmed that Scindia would get the Rajya Sabha seat.
Digvijay Singh, on the other hand, was spreading the news in Madhya Pradesh that Scindia has been snubbed by Delhi and Kamal Nath both, BJP sources say. As per Digvijay’s latest statement, Kamal Nath kept refusing the post that Scindia wanted.
Scindia’s BJP stint is likely to help Delhi keep Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Shivraj Singh Chouhan—the regional satraps in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh—under control, sources say. Above all Madhya Pradesh, an important state, has been brought to the table.