CONGRESS … All eyes on Scindia after he stands apart and backs Modi’s Kashmir policy

NEW DELHI /BHOPAL: Will Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia cut and run? This is a question upper-most in the minds of partymen and others too, after the young leader with a royal aura broke ranks and supported the Modi government’s move to abrogate Article 370 and end the special status for Kashmir.

Scindia took a favourable stand towards the government move despite the Congress leadership including Rahul Gandhi tweeted against the government move and said it would have far-reaching adverse consequences to the country. Scindia tweeted that this was a good step and that he backed it. However, he said it would have been better if the government followed the constitutional procedures while abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A.

A general secretary of the Congress, 48-year-old Scindia was expected to be the Congress choice for CM post when the party won the assembly polls last time. Instead, state PCC chief Kamal Nath was selected by the party leadership in Delhi –rather, the Nehru household. One, Kamal Nath pressed his case; two, the family did not want a strong youth leader to come upfront in the Hindi belt, who could eventually challenge Rahul Gandhi and the family.

Jyotiraditya Scindia’s father was Madhavrao Scindia, former Union minister under Rajiv Gandhi. Madhavrao is no more, and the political legacy fell on his son. Jyotiraditya’s aunt is Vasundhara Raje Scindia, a BJP leader and former chief minister of Rajasthan.

The Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh is having an uneasy existence. The Congress does not have a majority in the assembly and Kamal Nath took the help of the BSP and SP which have a couple of members in the assembly. Some Independents are also backing Nath. Nath is keeping these members and parties in good humour with generous support to them in multiple ways. 

Modi’s decision on Kashmir has taken the Congress unawares. The party, already rudderless due to resignation of president post by Rahul Gandhi, took time to respond. Rahul himself responded a day later, after introduction of related bills in Parliament. He sharply criticised the government action via a tweet, but he as also mother Sonia Gandhi avoided speaking in Parliament when discussions were done in Lok Sabha. Party leader in Lok Sabha, 

In Lok Sabha, Aadhir Ranjan Chowdhury from West Bengal made a fool out of himself on Tuesday by asking funny questions about Kashmir, without having a proper understanding of the issues at stake. This reportedly embarrassed Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, as the two sat watching the scene in the Lok Sabha. Home Minister Amit Shah, who was speaking on the bills, made pulp out of Chowdhury, further embarrassing the Congress benches. 

The chaos and confusion in the Congress ranks on Kashmir issue were worsened by the decision by Congress whip in Rajya Sabha, Bhuvaneswar Kalita, to announce support for the bills and quitting the party. P Chidambaram was among the Congress members who opposed the bills in Parliament. 

Overall, Congresmen are increasingly despondent and distressed over the fate that has befallen their Grand Old Party. Modi and Shah together are bound to make mincemeat out of the Congress with their aggressive styles and policies, Congressmen fear. Fact is, nothing goes right for the Congress after the LS poll debacle. 

The defeat of a Nehru family politician at the hustings, as happened in Amethi this time, was both a sign of the times Indian politics has reached and the steady fall in esteem of the family, which is increasingly and dangerously alienating Hindus by a policy of over-reach to the minorities, in place and out of place. Sonia Gandhi perfected this policy, almost recklessly and without being mindful of the consequences, and the BJP reaped a harvest of electoral support.

Another party that goes out of the way to pander to minority sentiments is the CPIM, which anyway has no clout and base in India now, except in Kerala, where party strongman Pinarayi Vijayan was in full control of the party and now runs the state government as chief minister. 

Scindia’s bold move now comes close on the heels of a new embarrassment to Kamal Nath. His nephew has been under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate in relation to the VVIP chopper scam, and raids thereof. The bribe-taking scam during the UPA II period is bound to draw in Kamal Nath too sooner or later, which would raise question marks on his continuation as chief minister, political analysts reckon. 

The next in line for CM post in the state Congress is Scindia. It could also be that he can break up the Congress and form an alternative government with backing from BJP, if former chief minister and state BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a powerful OBC leader, agrees to such a proposition. IHN-NN


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