Bengaluru: Let us go back in time to the year 2018. It was the time of Vidhan Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh and the Congress unit there was torn apart with in-fighting. Both Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath wanted to lead the party and they made their intentions clear to the high-command. Everybody expected Scindia to lead the Congress in MP as he was a close aide of Rahul Gandhi. So, it took people to surprise when Gandhi chose Kamal Nath. The reason you ask? It was Digvijay Singh’s dislike of Scindia and this rivalry dates back to the rivalry of two erstwhile royal families of Gwalior and Raghogarh, the families to which Scindia and Singh belong.

The former princely state of Raghopur once collected revenues for the Maharaja of Gwalior, the Scindias. The brunt of this rivalry was still borne by the descendants in Congress. This Raghogarh versus Gwalior rivalry goes way back to the eighteenth century. Mahadji Scindia was part of the Maratha forces who fought for the Peshwa against Ahmed Shah Abdalli in the Third Battle of Panipat. Though Scindia was injured, he survived. 10 years after the defeat of Panipat, Scindia recaptured Delhi in 1771 and placed the weakened Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II on the throne but under the Maratha suzerainty. Daulatrao Scindia was the successor to Mahadji who defeated the 7th Raja of Raghogarh, Hindupat Raja Jai Singh in the year 1802 and this is where it all began. He then made Raghogarh the vassal state of Gwalior. So, when the British subdued all Indian princes, Gwalior remained a 21 gun-salute state but Raghogarh became a no-gun-salute state. It is heard that Scindia senior, Madhavrao Scindia also fostered a dislike towards Digvijay Singh, the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for the same reason. Well, after independence all princely states were de-recognized, but it seems like the rivalries remained.

Now, let’s come back to the year 2018. The youngsters of Congress lobbied hard to let Scindia be their nominee for the post of CM. He was a perfect choice: educated, bright, loved by people and most importantly, belonged to Rahul Gandhi’s inner circles. He did seem as the uncontested winner in this regard. But, when Kamal Nath won the CM’s seat, it seemed that once again Sonia’s coterie Digvijay Singh won. A failed politician trying to destroy the career of a promising young leader just to pacify some age-old rivalry. Rahul Gandhi tried to pacify both sides by tweeting a photograph of him with Nath and Scindia, but the cracks were too deep to be plastered.

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But Digvijay Singh wasn’t done just jeopardizing Scindia’s chances in Congress yet. Earlier this year, Madhya Pradesh Congress was supposed to choose its new head. Scindia again appealed for the post and it was yet again rejected. Kamal Nath is not just the CM but also the party chief in MP. The reason? Scindia was not acceptable to all factions, especially to the faction led by Digvijay Singh. Singh’s vehement opposition has left the deserving claimant Scindia failing to get the opportunity to serve in MP state Congress’ most powerful post. This further aggravated Scindia’s wounds. The last nail in this coffin was regarding the Rajya Sabha nominations. Singh’s intervention also culled Scindia’s chances of winning a Rajya Sabha seat from the state. Singh and Nath, who are supposed to be rivals teamed up and ensured that Scindia is sidelined in the party. Well, I think now they are indeed getting a taste of their own Karma. 

So, it isn’t natural when Scindia chose to explore his options somewhere else? He did try his best to serve Congress, but after being repeatedly denied positions of responsibilities despite working hard, there were no reasons left to be in Congress. BJP did seem like a natural option for him as his father had also started his career with Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the Janata Party. But he also took the calm of MP Congress with him as he left. The MP Congress is at the brink of collapse and Scindia cannot be blamed for it. 

Well, the only person who seems to have benefited from the entire scandal is Mr Digvijay Singh. He was seeking to find relevance in the party after his shameful defeat against Pragya Thakur. This entire scandal brought him back to the limelight. In pretending to solve this crisis, he gained both relevance and respect from his party workers. His ploy did give him the results he wanted. What a win-win situation! With Scindia gone, he can now be the face of MP Congress.

This is indeed a wake-up call for the Congress high command. Perhaps, if they really want to save the party from an unnatural death, they should start rewarding those who work hard for the party. How long can they survive on the shoulders of oldies and dynasts without recognizing sheer talent and hard work?

About Abhinav Khare

Abhinav Khare is the CEO of Asianet News Network and also the host of a daily show named Deep Dive with AK. He has a lifetime collection of books and gadgets and has already pinged more than hundred cities around the globe. 

He is a tech entrepreneur, who is passionate about policy, technology, economy and philosophy from ancient India. He earned an MS Engineering from the ETH Zurich and an MBA Finance from the London Business School.