Popularly known as the ‘Maharaj’, Jyotiraditya Scindia, the son of late veteran Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia, is the party’s biggest trump card to take on ruling BJP’s two-time Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who is determined to get a third straight term in this year’s assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh.
Jyotiraditya, known for his clean image and his popularity among the state’s youth, is the one leader on whom the Congress party has pinned all its hopes to revive its lost glory and bring it back to power after nearly one decade.
Despite the presence of several big names in the party’s state unit, the Maharaj of Gwalior is largely seen as Congress’ chief ministerial pick and a formidable challenger to BJP’s `brand` Shivraj. Scindia, the scion of the Gwalior Royal family, was born on January 1, 1971 to Madhavrao Scindia and Madhavi Raje Scindia. After doing his schooling from the prestigious Doon School, he left for the United States to do his graduation from the prestigious Harvard University.
Jyotiraditya also holds an MBA degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Been a minister for seven out of the last ten years he has spent in Delhi together with his unblemished track record makes him a perfect choice among the present league of Congress leaders in the state. The big break for Scindia, who is seen as a tech-savvy new generation politician as compared to others, came when he was given the independent charge of the Power Ministry in 2012.
Jyotiraditya’s foray into the murky world of politics was not a matter of choice but triggered by a bad stroke of fate. His political journey began after his father died an untimely death in a tragic helicopter crash after which the seat in his political constituency of Guna – a traditional Congress stronghold - fell vacant.
So in order to retain the prestigious Guna constituency, the Congress high command picked Jyotiraditya as Madhavrao’s natural successor to represent the party in his father’s constituency.
In February 2002, Scindia was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha from his constituency winning with a huge margin of 450,000 votes. And after that victory he never looked back as he was re-elected to the 14th Lok Sabha when he won the elections in May 2004. In the by-elections of 2007, he successfully defeated the incumbent in Shivpuri-Guna consituency. And in 2009, when he was once again elected to the Lok Sabha, he was appointed the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry.
After the July 2012 all-India India blackout, the largest power outage in history, Scindia was tasked by the Planning Commission with a task of preventing the recurrence of such incident, which affected over 620 million people.
In the past, whenever he has campaigned in the state, Jyotiraditya never forgot to invoke the memory and legacy of his late father. The Congress’ youth icon is also known to be one of the most dedicated workers at his workplace. Seeing massive potential in him, the party appointed Jyotiraditya, the current Union Minister of State for Power, the head of Congress’ 2013 election campaign committee in Madhya Pradesh.
The three-time MP has also been a Member of Congress Working Committee, Congress Economic Affairs Cell, Consultative Committee`s External Affairs, Consultative Committee`s Defence, Standing Committee on Finance, Committee on Petitions and Committee on Estimates.
Being a cricket enthusiast like his late father, Scindia is also the president of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA). After the spot fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League, which led to the exit of Sanjay Jagdale, a member of the MPCA and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Secretary, Jyotiraditya openly aired his views about reigning corruption in Indian cricket.
An official announcement on Scindia’s promotion as the chief ministerial candidate could further leapfrog his political career, motivate the party cadres and send a strong message to the electorate that he can be a strong alternative to Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Will Scindia manage to revive Congress’ fortune and help it end the party’s ten year drought in the state will be known in a matter of few weeks.