NEW DELHI: The atmosphere in Madhya Pradesh is charged with the state eagerly awaiting the declaration of election results. The fate of the state will be decided on December 3. The New Indian’s Executive Editor, Rohan Dua, spoke to Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, about camaraderie in the Bharatiya Janata Party, and why he left Congress.
Rohan: Considering your recent hectic campaign and travels, let me get straight to the point. Today, when you cast your vote, you emphatically denied being in the CM race, despite being one of the top contenders if BJP secures a landslide victory. How do you see your role in the party, given the potential success and the presence of other strong contenders like Kailash Vijayvargiya, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Prahlad Patel, Narendra Singh Tomar, and more, who played key roles in the 2020 victory?
Scindia: “Let me reiterate what I have said multiple times. This is not a pursuit of a chair. Personally, for me, it has never been so. If you delve back into history, neither was it for my father, and neither was it for my grandmother. In our family, our pursuit is only single fold, and that is development and progress, primarily firstly for our region, and secondly for the state. And in whatever capacity or role that we may be given to work for the country.
“That being said, the united front of the BJP, all leaders working together with only one single-minded focus. And that being to continue the pace and rate of development of Mother Pradesh in the years to come, that has been the path in the last 18 years.
“Therefore, we are not thinking about the government share, and who will occupy that post. That decision is wholly and solely the party leadership’s decision. Our only pursuit was to make sure that we do not interrupt, we do not allow the interruption of the development process of Madhya Pradesh.
“Therefore, for me personally, I’ve said this before, I was not in the race in 2013, I was not in the race in 2018, and I am not in the race today. My role is that of a BJP party worker: First, to strengthen the party, second, to bring about development, and third, to fulfil the aspirations of the people of my state.”
Rohan: I recently asked Mr. Kamal Nath about the trend of Doscos, like yourself, Captain Amarinder Singh, Manpreet Badal, and Jitin Prasada, distancing from Rahul Gandhi. Given your successful journey from being a Union Minister to the trust placed in you by the Prime Minister, and considering others like Hemanta Biswa Sarma joining the BJP, how do you now view the significance of your alma mater, especially as only a few remain associated with it? Nakul, in response to a similar question, mentioned maintaining friendly relations while pursuing Congress’s rebuilding dreams. Despite Mr. Kamal Nath’s rude remarks such as “toh utad jaye sadak pe”, how do you reflect on the past camaraderie, and does it still affect you?
Scindia: “I don’t think that camaraderie has to necessarily relate only to your place of education. As you move along in life, you develop friendships and relationships based on commonalities of values, principles, interests, hobbies, and so on and so forth.
“That being said, as far as my relationship with all people in the Congress, not necessarily from my alma mater alone, but across the breadth of the Congress. I have no negative feelings or no sort of accusations to make. Whatever happened is now part of my past.
“I believe in living in the present and working towards the future. So, I don’t want to spend too much time with respect to what happened in the past. The Congress is now my past.”
Rohan: Your close relationship and trust with PM Modi are evident. From his gestures during your cabinet induction to launching joint initiatives in various cities, including Kushinagar and Kolkata, and his visit to Scindia School, where he enjoys significant popularity in the Hindi heartland, what personal significance did it hold for you to share that space with him?
Scindia: “I think it was a singular honour. The fact that the Prime Minister took out time from his busy schedule to attend a personal function of the Scindia school. It was the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the school. And I think that moment will be etched as a golden moment in the school’s history.
“That being said, I’m also indebted to him for the personal comments that he made with respect to the contribution of my family. And I’m an emotional person by nature. I feel completely indebted to him and feel honoured to be able to work as a part of his team under his guidance.”
Rohan: As we are a few months away from the Lok Sabha elections as well, there’s a growing consensus that the BJP may field you from a Lok Sabha seat. If given the opportunity, would you prefer to be fielded from Guna or another seat where there is parliamentary consensus?
Scindia: I have mentioned this many times that I am an ordinary BJP worker. Whatever the party decides, it’s my duty to follow whatever the party decides.
Rohan: Having extensively travelled and lived in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and UP over the past 15-16 years, I’ve witnessed the belief that BJP is nearly unbeatable in the Hindi heartland, contributing significantly to Lok Sabha seats. While there were setbacks in states like Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, suggesting challenges in state assembly elections, do you share the view that the Lok Sabha is perceived as a comfortable journey due to the PM’s unmatched personality and unwavering support from the Hindi heartland and other regions, including the North East?
Scindia: “So, the Prime Minister doesn’t enjoy unwavering support from the Hindi heartland alone. The Prime Minister enjoys unwavering support from the length and breadth of India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Assam to Arunachal Pradesh.
“I doubt whether there has been a period in India’s history where such a charismatic, strong single focus single-minded leader has led the country to such heights in the last 75 years. And therefore, today citizens of India take great pride in having Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead our country.
“Therefore, that adulation if you will, that respect if you will, that love if you will, is for the hard work that he has put in relentlessly for the last almost 10 years, 9 and 3 quarter years of his tenure. So, I do believe that the Lok Sabha election will be a very, very strong election for the BJP without doubt.”
Rohan: With your family having a considerable influence in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, thanks to the legacy of your father (Madhavrao Scindia), a remarkable leader in his time, you’ve garnered substantial support, akin to the charisma he passed on to you. How do the enduring impressions of your father, Madhav Rao Scindia, guide you in embodying the same public presence he had in his generation?
Scindia: “I think it’s aspirational but extremely difficult to become what my father was. Simply put, if you ask me a direct question two thoughts come to my mind. Most importantly, apart from all the adjectives that you use to describe him, most importantly, Rohan, he was a good human being and that to me is one of the most important characteristics.
“Secondly, he was very principled, value driven and very truthful and I think these are qualities that are important for any person today and difficult to find in today’s day. It was much easier 30-40 years ago but today times have changed and therefore these qualities are very difficult to find and so those are the values that I would like to walk on to be able to follow in his footsteps.”
Rohan: Are there any two or three emotional things that you miss about him often after his loss?
Scindia: “I miss him every day. There’s not a single day that passes by that I don’t think of. The relationship I shared with him was more than just a father and son. He loved me without any boundaries and guided me. There is a time when all of us will pass and all of us move on but that was not his time. Those are things that you can’t determine. Those are determined by fate for you and so that moment fundamentally changes once life in more ways than one.”
Rohan: You believe that he would have been happier to see all the family coming together as a flock and then working for the nation as one family and one outfit.
Scindia: I am sure! I am sure both of them would be – my father and my grandmother.
Rohan: In this election, you’ve emphasised the importance of women voters, urging them to explore ‘Ladli schemes’ and acknowledging both Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s initiatives and central government schemes like ‘Ujwala Yojana’. Looking ahead, which government scheme do you take pride in, knowing that your involvement or advocacy contributed to shaping the mandate, whether in this election or the upcoming Lok Sabha elections?”
Scindia: “It is difficult to define in one but I think what the Prime Minister and the central government and the state government have focused on is that to improve the quality of life of every citizen in this country. If you ask me for a vision statement that the BJP stands for.
“Hence, anything that enhances the quality of your life contributes to its improvement. Whether you reside in rural India without access to toilets, lack clean cooking gas facilities, or don’t have a proper house.
“The sum and substance was that if India needs to become a world power then that can’t be done by 10-20 per cent of our population. Every single citizen of our country has to be empowered.
“The word is empowered to be able to contribute to the cause of nation-building. A nation gets built when every single citizen contributes to that ‘Imarat’ or to that building in terms of their task and their role.
“Our role as government, both central and state, is to make sure that we give those, for the lack of a better word, those ‘Auzars’ in people’s hands so that they can contribute to the task of nation building. That’s what the BJP stands for.”
Rohan: I’m posing this question as I’ve just come from Sehore, sitting in a makeshift location amidst the election chaos. The extensive queues, primarily composed of women, suggest that BJP’s women-centric schemes might be attracting and mobilising these women voters, influencing the ongoing voting process.
Scindia: “Shivraj Singh Chouhan has significantly altered the life journey of women in Madhya Pradesh. Starting from the ‘Ladli Laxmi’ scheme at birth, providing scooters for academic success, supporting marriage through ‘Kanya Dan’ Yojna, to becoming a ‘Ladli Behna’ at 21, the transformation is continuous. It’s not merely a single scheme but rather a dynamic, ongoing enhancement that fundamentally improves the lives of girls and women throughout the state.”
Rohan: Recently, during interviews with Kailash Vijayvargiya and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, they commended your courageous actions and attributed your departure from Congress to Kamal Nath’s arrogance. Do you acknowledge that your actions have fostered friendships across party lines in the BJP, where they trust and appreciate your contributions??
Scindia: “Regarding friendship, I believe it would be arrogant for me to say whether others consider me a friend. It is more appropriate for them to express their perspective. From my standpoint, I perceive them not only as friends but also as an extension of my family.”