With much of the action in the bypolls concentrated on the family bastion of the Gwalior-Chambal area, Scindia will have much to prove.
A lot is at stake for the Bharatiya Janata Party as Madhya Pradesh heads to polls for 24 Assembly seats later this year. The stakes are equally high for Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose defection to the saffron fold led to the demise of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in the state. With much of the action in the bypolls concentrated on the family bastion of the Gwalior-Chambal area, Scindia will have much to prove to get a greater hold in a party that claims to reward performance.
It has been over three months since Scindia and his loyalists shifted camp to join the BJP. While there has been no word from the Election Commission of India on the poll dates, technically the seats need to be filled within six months of their vacation. Since the poll process would require around 45 days to complete, it is expected that the polls could be held in the month of July. However, with the coronavirus pandemic casting a spell of uncertainty over the entire poll process, even political parties appear to be unsure of how to go about things.
The 22 ex-Congress MLAs resigned from the party on March 10, which makes elections, under normal circumstances, to conclude by September 10. Of the 24 seats where polls are to be held, two seats — Jaura and Agar — need to be concluded much earlier as they fell vacant on December 21, 2019, and January 30 respectively. The BJP, which currently commands 107 seats in the reduced House strength of 204, will need to win at least 10 more seats in order to cross the magic figure of 116 in the 230-member Assembly and save the government comfortably.
Much will be riding on Scindia and his loyalists who shifted to the BJP and will be in the fray in the coming polls. Two of Scindia’s confidantes — Tulsiram Silawat and Govind Rajput — who resigned from their seats and were appointed ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
Scindia, who lost his traditional Guna seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, needs to prove his worth if he hopes to make his presence felt emphatically in the BJP. Several of the saffron party’s top-rung leaders including Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar hail from the same area of Madhya Pradesh and will be closely watching developments.
Loyalists from the Scindia camp have already voiced their demands to induct Jyotiraditya Scindia into the Narendra Modi cabinet. A decent performance in the bypolls could go a long way towards achieving this goal. BJP has already given Scindia a ticket to the Rajya Sabha, two of his loyalists have also been made ministers. With several boxes ticked as far as being compensated for bringing the BJP back to power, the onus of proving his mettle will squarely rest on Scindia’s shoulders. A defeat that leads to the fall of the BJP government, could spell doom for Scindia and his political ambitions.