In India, Jyotiraditya Scindia, 52, quit the Congress party in 2020 and brought down the Madhya Pradesh (MP) state government because he wanted to be the Chief Minister (CM).
Scindia’s decision to topple the Kamal Nath-led government had an unexpected beneficiary — Shivraj Singh Chauhan, 63, who returned as the state's CM.
Madhya Pradesh will go to polls at the end of this year and the million dollar question being asked in the corridors of power in Bhopal and among the factions in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is — who will be the CM face?
The answer changes depending on which faction the BJP, the leader belongs to — Scindia, Chauhan, Narottam Mishra or even Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Scindia star on ascend
Scindia was made minister for Civil Aviation in the Modi government but it is hardly a palace secret that the erstwhile royal has his heart set on the top job in MP.
Scindia has used his recent proximity to Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to good effect. He is a rare Modi minister allowed to have a bold face in media as most other ministers are not encouraged to seek publicity.
Chauhan, who nursed prime ministerial ambitions of his own before the rise of Modi and along with L K Advani and the late Sushma Swaraj opposed him publicly, has been in an uncomfortable political position.
From taking pride in being a “moderate” mamaji (uncle) — as he is universally addressed — Chauhan has tried to give himself a hard-right makeover, based on the Yogi model. However, his days as CM may be numbered, say most of the BJP faction leaders, I spoke to for this SWAT ANALYSIS.
Shivraj Singh Chauhan out of favour?
“Mamaji made a mistake in 2014 and in politics the concept of forgiveness does not exist. He knows this and has tried to make amends but he will get some ornamental role in the central BJP or will be made a governor of some state. The chances of him returning as MP Chief Minister are next to nil. The odds are totally stacked against him,” a senior BJP leader from MP told Gulf News.
So with Chauhan in the doghouse, will the BJP project Scindia as the Chief Ministerial face? Scindia is losing no time to ensure that he is seen as the pre-eminent BJP face, occupying total foreground space but, this has gone down badly with other BJP leaders, who also want to be CM.
Take Narottam Mishra, minister in the Chauhan government, who is playing personal censor to the Shahrukh Khan film Pathaan. Mishra feels that publicity seeking antics grab him eyeballs and the support of what is politely described as the “right wing fringe”.
Mishra has had a long-running battle with Chauhan and wants to replace him. Kailash Vijayvargiya, on the other hand, wants to be the CM face. Vijayvargiya’s ambitions have been dented because of his son’s public antics and Modi’s rare public rebuke.
Congress lies in wait for big prize
As the BJP faces the problem of plenty in its leaders, the Congress, led by Kamal Nath, lies in wait. Nath wants to play a grudge match against Scindia, who broke away with 22 MLAs back in the day and toppled his government.
He is playing the long match, spending all his time in Bhopal, ably assisted by Digvijaya Singh, former Chief Minister.
Both the Congress leaders are united in utter antipathy to Scindia. Kamal Nath has access to financial resources — a serious problem bogging the Congress down currently and Singh knows the MP Congress organisation, like the back of his hand.
The battle of Madhya Pradesh has just entered its first stage. There is more to come. And, as always my dear readers of SWAT ANALYSIS, watch this space.