Congress leaders Partap Singh Bajwa and Gaurav Gogoi spoke to NDTV on Jyotiraditya Scindia
Ideology has become one of the biggest casualties in contemporary politics, Punjab Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa told NDTV today amid ongoing chaos in Madhya Pradesh, where Chief Minister Kamal Nath's 15-month-old Congress government teeters on the edge after Tuesday's shock resignation of Jyotiraditya Scindia and 21 Congress MLAs.
Mr Scindia, once a close friend of the Gandhi family and widely seen as a key figure in the new guard of India's oldest party, is set to add insult to injury by joining the BJP at 2 pm. He is to be rewarded with a Rajya Sabha nomination and, later, a central ministerial berth. This comes a fortnight after he tore into the BJP over the violence in Delhi and accused party leaders of "spreading the politics of hate".
"I am not very sure what happened to him (Jyotiraditya Scindia) but ideology is one of the biggest casualties in politics. People don't stand on ideologies anymore… neither parties nor leaders. It was most unfortunate… he was a young educated leader and this is a great loss for the Congress," Partap Singh Bajwa, who held the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat, told NDTV.
"We must pull up our socks because we cannot allow mainstream leaders to leave. Why weren't General Secretaries aware of this problem brewing?" he added, indicating that a similar problem may face Punjab Congress and Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
The @BJP4India leaders have got to stop spreading the politics of hate. Need both the governments to work together and put an end to this before it's too late!
— Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) February 26, 2020
Mr Bajwa also urged senior Congress leadership to learn from the Jyotiraditya Scindia episode and ensure "we have direct connection to all important people in the party… people who feel their interests are not being protected".
Another Congress leader – Assam Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi, who is also the son of former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, – told NDTV he was "disappointed" with Mr Scindia's decision.
"This is a time that the country is facing a crisis – in economy, in society. Look at the Delhi violence. This is when one should remain committed to principles and values. Not a time to compromise on values by joining the BJP," Gaurav Gogoi said.
"If he thinks he is going to get more respect in BJP, then he is mistake. He won't get 10 per cent of what Congress gives," Mr Gogoi added, rebutting a claim made by BJP MLA Yashodhara Raje, who is also Mr Scindia's aunt, that the BJP had great respect for Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Jyotiraditya Scindia is expected to get a Rajya Sabha nomination and, later, a central ministry berth
Mr Scindia's decision to quit the Congress after nearly two decades of service comes after months of disenchantment with senior party leaders.
In a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi, he said, "… this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year". Among the many points of contention were him being passed over for the Chief Minister's berth in December 2018, despite a sizeable contribution to the party's unexpected Assembly polls win.
Despite that, many within the Congress have said Mr Scindia's exit could have been avoided had the Gandhi family reached out to him. Pradyot Manikya Debbarma, erstwhile Tripura royal and a cousin of Mr Scindia, told NDTV Mr Scindia tried repeatedly to meet Mr Gandhi but had been rebuffed each time.
A late compromise – the offer of a Rajya Sabha post – was then rebuffed.
Mr Bajwa, however, tempered his criticism of the Congress leadership by pointing out that being a Chief Minister – which Mr Scindia had been hoping to become – was not easy.
"A Chief Minister must always be available – 24/7, 365. Someone who wants to be Chief Minister must remember this… it is not a holiday," he said.
The Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh, which began Tuesday with 120 MLAs, could now be left with only 99 MLAs in a reduced house where the majority mark is 104. The BJP, with 107 MLAs, will have the edge in that case and will stake claim to power.