GRAPPLING WITH nationwide protests against the new citizenship law, worsening economic crisis and recent electoral defeats, the BJP may have just received a shot in its arm, with Jyotiraditya Scinda possibly paving the way for the party’s return to power in Madhya Pradesh. With 22 MLAs associated with Scindia resigning, the Kamal Nath government is facing collapse in the state.
The last leg of Operation Lotus, a plan that has been talked about ever since Congress came to power in the state in December 2018 with a slender majority, appears to have been meticulously planned and effectively rolled out — until Tuesday — by former BJP chief and Home Minister Amit Shah, sources said. Shah, who handed over party’s reins to J P Nadda earlier this year, has been in discussions with Scindia, who was miffed with the Congress leadership for sidelining him.
In this operation, which is expected to provide the BJP a morale boost after setbacks in Jharkhand and Delhi elections as well as when it was edged out of power in Maharashtra, Shah was assisted by his trusted lieutenants — Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Narendra Singh Tomar. With Shah still calling the shots in the party, Pradhan conducted crucial negotiations while Tomar was given the charge of mustering the numbers to topple the Kamal Nath government.
The meetings held on Monday with these leaders along with Nadda and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan finalised the strategies for the way forward.
Both Tomar and Chouhan, sources said, were possible claimants for the chief minister’s post, although party sources said the latter had an edge.
Scindia’s possible entry into the BJP — if it happens — will give the party an edge in the long run, said BJP sources. A top source said Scindia was expected to join the BJP on Wednesday.
Scindia’s charisma and family legacy could help the BJP consolidate its support base in the Gwalior-Chambal region, where the Congress still has some stronghold constituencies. At the same time, internally, the 49-year-old Scindia could emerge as the most prominent leader of the BJP, pushing the current ones, including Tomar, to the second line.
Sources said Scindia in BJP could also help the top leadership, especially Shah, to sideline his aunts — former Rajasthan chief minister and current party vice-president Vasundhara Raje and former Madhya Pradesh minister Yashodhara Raje — it is believed he does not share a good rapport with either. According to a state party leader, the leadership cannot “ignore or sideline” the clan as the party leadership always revered Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia, co-founder of BJP who had been with the party since Jan Sangh days.