Political historian and journalist Rasheed Kidwai is out with his fifth book. Titled The House of Scindias, the book takes a look at one of India’s most talked about political dynasties. Jyotiraditya Scindia was recently in the news when he crossed over from the Congress to the BJP, but his two aunts, Vasundhara Raje and Yashodhara Raje too draw their own share of headlines. Vasundhara specially has been holding her own in Rajasthan, taking on not just the Congress but also a section of her own party, which is no mean feat. In fact, one could argue that while the Scindia men got their share of media and political attention, it’s the feisty Scindia ladies who deserve special mention for holding their own, defending their political and personal space. With Jyotiraditya crossing over to the BJP it completes the saffronization of the Scindias. But despite both his aunts welcoming him to the party, there remains a sort of turf war within the family, perhaps because the Scindias are still engaged in a property litigation. Of the two aunts, it is Yashodhara who is the more outspoken and Rasheed reveals an interesting nugget that highlights the undercurrents within the family. When Yashodhara’s son Akshay was to get married she had planned a reception at the family’s Jai Vilas palace in Gwalior. But the night before the event, she discovered that someone had ordered that the lawns be watered and so she could not hold the event there as the wet grass would spoil the guests’ finery. She had to shift the reception to a hotel nearby, and well, one can only guess who gave the orders for the lawns to be watered. Now that the family is united ideologically perhaps the property issues can be sorted too and the Scindias will truly be one Hindu Undivided Family.
Kidwai is truly the master of the anecdote and there are lots of nuggets in these pages that add to the political tale. The book comes at a time when four members of the Scindia family are in active politics and makes for an interesting read.
Sidhu is no Sachin Pilot
Why is the Congress high command entertaining Navjot Singh Sidhu’s tantrums against Captain Amarinder Singh? While he may be a star campaigner, Sidhu is certainly no mass leader and doesn’t have the same gravitas as the Captain. Neither is he a veteran Congressman like some of the others who have rebelled against the Captain’s style but not been taken as seriously as Sidhu. Congress workers claim that Sidhu has access to both Rahul and Priyanka and it’s this access that is his main source of support. But Sidhu is no Sachin Pilot and whether he stays or leaves will have little impact on the party cadre beyond his constituency. Neither has he worked to revive the party as Sachin did in Rajasthan at a time when the Congress was in the opposition facing its worst defeat ever. Then, why score a self goal against one of your tallest leaders if only to cut him down to size? For, while Sidhu has been threatening to quit the party if his demands are not met (i.e. that he is made the state PCC chief) the Congress leadership needs to worry about the alternative—what will happen if Captain leaves the party and forms his own regional outfit? Where will that leave the state Congress?
Gehlot’s Medical Leave
It’s been a year since Sachin Pilot raised the demands for his people to be accommodated in the Ashok Gehlot ministry. He had flagged these concerns to a three-member committee set up to look into the matter ten months ago and had been assured by the Centre that his demands would be met. But the Centre clearly gave this assurance without taking Gehlot into confidence, for the Rajasthan CM is in no mood to placate his bete-noir. Recently a local paper reported that Gehlot has a chit from his doctor advising him not to meet anyone for two months. So then, ask Gehlot’s supporters, how can he carry out a Cabinet reshuffle? But Team Sachin is not buying this, pointing out that the CM doesn’t need to physically swear in the new ministers. And moreover, he has been meeting people. In the picture is also Ajay Maken who has been given charge of Rajasthan, stating that Pilot’s demands will be met soon. As Gehlot refuses to oblige, there is also a search on for the said doctor who seems to have given this two months’ reprieve to the CM.