Shivpuri: As his party makes an all-out effort to wrest control of Madhya Pradesh from the BJP, senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia feels it is “now or never” for the grand-old party that has remained out of power in the state for 15 straight years.
Scindia, a powerful Congress leader from the state, however sought to steer clear of reports about rift among party leaders for the chief ministerial post and said he is not running for any chair and his sole aim is to ensure that his party forms the government.
The Member of Parliament from the Guna-Shivpuri constituency, who secured a win during the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014 despite most of his party colleagues facing a defeat amid a widespread Modi wave at that time, has toured close to four dozen assembly constituencies in last six days and plans to cover 50-60 more seats before campaigning ends on November 26.
Voting will take place for 230 assembly seats on November 28, while counting is scheduled for December 11. The state has always seen a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress, though the saffron party has been in power continuously since defeating the Congress in 2003.
Talking to PTI during his election campaign, Scindia said his party needs to be relentless until 5 pm on November 26 when the campaign would end.
Asked if this was the best opportunity for the Congress to come back to power in the state which it has ruled for the maximum time since Independence, the former union minister said, “Well best or not, it is now or never. Full stop. When I say now or never that says it all.”
“Therefore, I wanted to put all my energy into campaign for the Congress party. As the campaign committee chief that is my direct responsibility,” he said.
To a question if he would be the chief ministerial candidate if his party wins the polls, the 47-year-old scion of the royal family of Gwalior said he will abide by whatever the party decides for him.
Prodded further on the subject and asked if he will contest polls to hold the chief minister’s position if his party wins, Scindia had a brief comment: “We will see at that point of time.”
“My only aspiration is to serve the people. I am not myself running for any post. What I would want to see is that my party comes into government so that people get served in the right manner,” he said.
Asked it was part of some strategy that the Congress was not projecting a CM face, Scindia said it was a conscious decision on his part and by the party.
“I don’t think there is any strategy around it but I think it is an individual choice. As far as I am concerned, I wanted to cover as much ground as I could,” he said.
Besides Scindia, Congress has a number of other influential leaders from Madhya Pradesh including another former union minister Kamal Nath and former chief minister Digvijay Singh. There have been several reports about a long-running rivalry between Scindia and Nath for the chief ministerial post.
As he kept on polling anti-alergic lozenges tablets to cure his sore throat after speaking at multiple public meetings, Scindia said some poll surveys have given the Congress an edge against the BJP in the state but he does not want to get into an “over-confident mode”.
“This should make me feel elated. But no, I do not go by surveys. There are countless examples of surveys that have gone wrong… I go by my gut feeling. I would not want to be at all in an over confident mode.
“We will undertake this fight till our last breath because this is not a fight to gain power in Madhya Pradesh but is a fight to serve and fulfil the aspirations of the 7.5 crore people of my state,” he said.
Out of its entire population, Madhya Pradesh has an estimated voter base of about 5.03 crore people.
The Congress leader also accused the state government under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of using money and muscle power in the polls.
“The challenge on the ground is that you are fighting a machine that is very equipped with money power, is equipped with diabolical thinking and therefore we have to be on the alert all the time,” he said.
Scindia said he is well aware about the BJP’s election strategy as he has fought them in last three by-elections in Madhya Pradesh in the last one year.
“I know their game and I have beaten them in assembly constituencies liek Mungaoli and Kolaras,” he said.
He asserted he was not making unfounded allegations against the BJP, but it was a “fact” that the ruling party uses muscle and money power in polls.
“We have complained to the Election Commission about this during the by-elections,” he added.
The son of late Congress leader and union minister Madhavrao Scindia said he is confident about an inevitable change in Madhya Pradesh after touring the state and meeting people.
“We know that this is the time for change in the state as people in Madhya Pradesh are very fed up with the current rule as their aspirations are not being met and people are desirous of change”, Scindia said.
The Congress’s official advertisements in the state are also based on the theme of ‘parivartan’ (change).