Jyotiraditya faces father's old rival in Guna

Jyotiraditya faces father's old rival in Guna

Jyotiraditya faces father's old rival in Guna

The BJP's Jaibhan Singh Pavaiya is testing electoral waters against Jyotiraditya Scindia, seeking his fourth consecutive term from the family stronghold.

Pavaiya, a co-founder of the Bajrang Dal and a long-time detractor of the Gwalior royals, had given a tough fight to Scindia's father, late Madhavrao Scindia, in 1998 in Gwalior, forcing the charismatic leader to subsequently shift to Guna. The senior Scindia had managed to win the seat by a slender margin of 26,000-odd votes.

Pavaiya has now returned to challenge the younger Scindia, the power minister in the UPA regime, which is battling a 10-year anti-incumbency. Jyotiraditya had first won the Lok Sabha seat in the 2002 by-poll, necessitated by the death of Madhavrao Scindia in an air-crash. In his public meetings, Scindia has recounted the various initiatives of the UPA government, and listed out the Rs 9,000 crore spent on development works in the region over the past 12 years.

A key issue in this constituency is the delay in granting compensation to farmers who lost their crop, particularly wheat and gram, to unseasonal rain and hailstorm last month. Scindia wears a black armband while campaigning, as a mark of protest against non-disbursal of compensation to affected farmers. He is assisted in canvassing by his wife Priyadarshini Raje and 18-year-old son Mahanaryaman.

Jyotiraditya's mother Madhavi Raje too is traversing the dusty region, reaching out to women voters.

For Pavaiya, the campaign punchline in royalty versus a common man. The BJP leader's disdain for royalty was evident when he refused to show respect to the statue of late Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia when filing his nomination papers.

This has even led to discontent within the royalty, a section of which is also with the BJP. While the late Rajmata was a founder member of the BJP, Jyotiraditya's aunt Yashodhara Raje is a minister in the Madhya Pradesh government led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Keeping with the family tradition, Yashodhara Raje is staying away from the BJP campaign against her nephew.

Besides his personal appeal, Pavaiya is also banking on the “Narendra Modi wave” and the clean image of Chouhan. The chief minister has launched a vigorous campaign across the state. A group of young bikers Deccan Herald spoke to here appeared quite enamoured with Modi, while a large section of elders swore by the Gwalior royals, particularly Jyotiraditya. “We need a strong leader, and Modi fits the bill,” said biker Rajesh Jain, who had stopped at Gird village in Guna district.

Radheshyam Bhadoria, a farmer in his 60s, strongly opposed Chouhan's poll pitch of the Centre's “step-motherly” treatment of Madhya Pradesh by denying its share of funds.

Guna, which goes for polls on April 17, is one of the two seats where the Congress is confident of victory. The other is Chhindwara, represented by Union minister Kamal Nath. The Congress may also do well in the Satna and Jhabua constituencies.

Though Chouhan has been harping on “Mission 29”, the goal set by the BJP to win all the Lok Sabha seats in the state, party leaders admit that these two seats would surely go to the Congress.

“Our goal is 27 seats, but we will win 25,” former chief minister Kailash Joshi told Deccan Herald, further reducing the target set by his party.

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