Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia’s meeting with BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya at the latter’s residence in Indore last Monday has led to speculation about leadership change in the Madhya Pradesh unit of the party.
Scindia’s meeting with Vijayvargiya came just a week after Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who had been the member of the all-powerful party’s parliamentary board since August 2014, was removed from the post on August 18, fifteen months before the scheduled elections.
While some political observers see the meeting as less political and more personal, others are perceiving it as the beginning of a new political era in the state, if not now may be six months down the line or after the 2023 Assembly polls.
Political observers found some changes in gestures of Scindia during the meeting with Vijayvargiya as he was accompanied by his 26-year-old son Mahanaryaman Scindia. In a short video of the meeting that went viral on social media, senior Scindia was heard saying: “Aapke liye ek surprise laya hun (I have a surprise for you).”
Upon meeting Vijayvargiya, as a gesture of respect junior Scindia touched his feet and both embraced each other. This made people in political circles speculate more saying that, “Scindia family had never shown such a gesture before,” said a Bhopal-based senior journalist.
Senior political observer N.K. Singh was of the view that there is no doubt Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the only popular face of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, who won three consecutive Assembly elections on his own, but he lost the 2018 elections. “If the BJP is ruling Madhya Pradesh today, it could happen only because of Scindia. It appears that Shivraj Singh will face the same situation like Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had faced in 2003.”
Singh further said that both veterans of the Congress — Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh and Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) head Kamal Nath — are seasoned politicians, and the BJP knows very well who can take on these two leaders.
“The indication was very clear when Scindia joined the BJP, the situation was different. Scindia’s meeting with Vijayvargiya and some other senior BJP leaders of Madhya Pradesh, it may be that Centre’s top leadership wants to create an amicable scenario for him among Madhya Pradesh based senior politicians. Some senior BJP leaders, who are anti-Shivraj, have already shifted to Scindia’s favour,” he said.
After being dropped from the top decision-making body of the 11-member parliamentary board last week, Shivraj had said: “I don’t care at all whether I am qualified. If the party gives me the task of laying carpets, I will do it in the interest of the nation. If asked to stay in Jait (home village of Shivraj) then I will do so and if it asks me to be in Bhopal, I will follow the directions. There should be no personal ambition in politics.”
Political observers are also speculating that Shivraj Singh Chohan, who is a seasoned politician and many others who were not in his support were shown the door, have started lobbying against him and Vijayvargiya was one of them.
“Meeting with Vijayvargiya should not be taken as a big signal of change because he too has a limited role in the party now. But, yes, he has a strong hold in Indore division,” said a BJP spokesperson on condition of anonymity.