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In MP, Congress leaders weigh their options, BJP nervous about theirs

In MP, Congress leaders weigh their options, BJP nervous about theirs

In Gwalior, the name is inescapable. Atop the Gwalior Fort, looking out at the sprawling city within its walls, its lights twinkling at night, is the Scindia School. On the streets below, there are other schools, lanes, universities, even a shopping arcade, all of which carry the same Scindia. The Congress office is called Madhavrao Scindia Bhavan and is located in a place called Sindh ki Chavni. Over the years, that has got distorted to 'Scindia ki Chavni'. No one corrects you when you say that; there has never been any point. Yet, there is one building that has staunchly resisted this political legacy — a narrow, three-floor structure, bang in the middle of the city's 'Maharaj Bada', and serving as the city's BJP headquarters. Named 'Mukherjee Bhawan' after Syama Prasad Mookerjee, it was the one building here where the name Scindia was not taken in adulatory tones. Until 2.30 pm on March 11.

Wearing a sharp orange shirt tucked into his trousers, a saffron tika on his forehead, BJP media in-charge of the district Pawan Sen arrived at the office a little before 11.30 am that day. With Scindia scheduled to join the BJP in half-an-hour, Sen fields a constant stream of calls and queries from journalists, repeating what seemed to be the set party line: "It is only good for the BJP that such a big leader is joining us. It shows that in the one year the Congress has been in power, they have done nothing. They have not fulfilled their promises. And Scindiaji has shown he is against this government before. He told Chief Minister Kamal Nath that he would take to the streets if teachers were not regularised. He raised issues of farmers. He even supported the abrogation of Article 370. He may have been with them, but his heart was with us."

To the inevitable follow-up question too, there is a ready answer. Journalists point out that Scindia made numerous speeches against the BJP during his Congress days, including against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah; said the BJP spread poison; and that it formed governments through the backdoor (an allegation now being levelled in Madhya Pradesh). One mediaperson notes that BJP leaders made statements against Scindia from the press briefing room in the very building Sen is sitting in. Quickly, Sen, a leader in his 30s, who joined the ABVP as a student, leads the journalist to the second floor of Mukherjee Bhavan and switches on the lights. Above a door in a large hall are framed photographs of BJP legends. Right at the centre is Vijayaraje Scindia, Scindia's grandmother and one of the founder members of the BJP. "In politics, when you are on opposite sides, many things are said," Sen says, pointing to the bust. "This (Scindia's entry) is not a shift, this is a homecoming."

(Inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)

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