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Madhavrao Scindia: Jyotiraditya Scindia’s father, born this day in 1945, died under mysterious circumstances in 2001

It would not be farfetched to say that Vijaya Raje Scindia, who never wanted her son to join the Congress party and had been a patron of the Jan Sangh, would be smiling at the turn of events.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, the scion of the Scindia dynasty of the Marathas, has tendered his resignation from the Congress party. He is expected to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), where most of his family practices its politics. His imminent membership of the BJP has been hailed by his aunt Yashodhara Raje, who is in the BJP, as a ‘Gharwapsi’. His father, born on this day in 1945, the late Madhavrao Scindia, is the brother to Vasundhara Raje, who was elected the Chief Minister of Rajasthan from the BJP.

Jyotiraditya’s grandmother, Vijaya Raje Scindia, was one of the founding members of the BJP. For decades, she had patronized the Jan Sangh and been a member of it. His father, too, had begun his political career from the Jan Sangh, a political career cut short by his unfortunate death in an air crash nineteen years ago. Madhavrao Scindia died in a plane crash on the outskirts of Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh on the 30th of September 2001.

Madhavrao Scindia was a senior leader within the Congress party. But his rise was halted by the machinations of Sonia Gandhi. At the time of his untimely death, Madhavrao Scindia was fully aware that he would not be able to realize his potential within the Congress party. He could not ever become the president of the Congress party as long as the Gandhi dynasty was still at the helm.

The aircraft Madhavrao Scindia was traveling in caught fire and exploded after hitting the ground on that unfortunate day all those years ago. That he was unhappy within the Congress party is a fact well-known. Despite his capable leadership, he was resigned to the belief that as long as the Gandhi dynasty remained in control of the Congress party, he could not ever become the Prime Minister.

At one point in time, Madhavrao Scindia was the second biggest crowd-puller in the Congress party. British daily The Guardian said of Scindia in its obituary, “His aristocratic lineage, personal charm, articulateness, youthful image and talent for the rough and tumble of democratic politics shaped his mass appeal. Sonia Gandhi may have had the charisma of leadership and the family name, but Scindia had the oratorical powers and was Congress’s second-biggest crowd-puller.”

Madhavrao Scindia contested elections for the first time and won the 1971 general elections on a Jan Sangh ticket from Guna constituency in Madhya Pradesh. His mother, who is fondly remembered by Hindutvavadis as Rajmata, was already a member of the Jan Sangh and a patron of the party. In the backdrop of the emergency, he resigned from the Jan Sangh and in 1980, after stiff resistance from his family, he joined the Congress and won the Guna consistency from the Congress party. Following his death, his son Jyotiraditya has been contesting from the family bastion. From 2002 till 2019, Jyotiraditya Scindia has been the elected MP from Guna.

Many conspiracy theories surround the mysterious death of Madhavrao Scindia. It is speculated by many that the threat he posed to the Gandhi dynasty’s control over the Congress party might have played its part. Only a year earlier, another budding Congress leader, Rajesh Pilot, had died in a mysterious car accident near Jaipur in Rajasthan. Rajesh Pilot is the father of Sachin Pilot whose own political career has been stunted by the Congress party. Numerous others in the path of Sonia Gandhi’s rise to power have died under tragic circumstances, Sanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi included.

Madhavrao Scindia had many victories under his belt, he was elected as an MP nine times. However, his most famous victory is undoubtedly the defeat he handed out to Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1984, who would go on to become the Prime Minister of India in the future. In a last-minute decision, the Congress party decided to field Madhavrao Scindia from Gwalior. By doing so, he also avoided a direct clash with his mother. Until Madhavrao Scindia entered the fray, Vajpayee was expected to score an easy victory in the constituency. However, the scion of the Scindia dynasty managed to defeat him comfortably.

Madhavrao Scindia was one of the five children of the last ruling Maharaja of Gwalior, Jivajirao Scindia. He underwent schooling at Scindia School, Gwalior before pursuing his higher studies at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. Nearly two decades following his death, his son is expected to join the Bharatiya Janata Party, the successor of the Jan Sangh.

It would not be farfetched to say that Vijaya Raje Scindia, who never wanted her son to join the Congress party and had been a patron of the Jan Sangh, would be smiling at the turn of events. In her eyes, her grandson is on his way to correcting a mistake committed by her son. Other members of the Scindia dynasty are already powerful names within the BJP. The addition of Jyotiraditya Scindia to the ranks would bring Madhavrao Scindia’s journey a full circle.

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