Jyotiraditya’s departure unequivocally signifies that the awe and fear once inspired by the First Family-centric Congress high command are quickly vanishing.


The Gwalior scion has delivered a body-blow, a “double whammy” by exiting the Grand Old Party (GOP)—his political home of 18 years)—and joining, without further ado, its arch-enemy since the days of Syama Prasad Mookerjee (1901-53), architect of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS).

Jyotiraditya Scindia (49 years) made the not entirely unexpected move on the birth anniversary of his late father on 11 March; your writer had hinted as much in an article in The Sunday Guardian, 16-22 February 2020.

This could be the much awaited signal for more Congresspersons, the younger membership and the rank and file, to explore new avenues.

Jyotiraditya has shown the way.

There are those who believe that, years earlier, his father, Shrimant Madhavrao Scindia, was compelled to join the Indira Gandhi-led Congress in order to protect the family wealth and properties; other princely houses, like Jaipur, who had associated with the Swatantra Party or the BJS were already feeling the heat. The Scindia matriarch, Rajmata Vijaya Raje (1919-2001) did not, however, relent; she brought down the Congress government of D.P. Mishra in Madhya Pradesh in 1967 and remained steadfast in her affiliations despite being imprisoned during the Emergency.

She was a co-founder of the BJP.

Jyotiraditya’s departure unequivocally signifies that the awe and fear once inspired by the First Family-centric Congress high command are quickly vanishing.

When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi engineered a split in the Congress Party in 1969, many of the Young Turks, notably Chandra Shekhar, a future Prime Minister, Mohan Dharia, a future Union Minister and Krishan Kant, a future Vice President of the Republic went along with her faction and stabilised the Congress (Indira), the Congress(I). The parent party—the Congress (Organization) or the Congress (O) led by S. Nijalingappa (1902-2000)—languished.

Today, a half century later, the Congress, controlled by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has several old individuals at the top, ranging from Motilal Vora (92 years), Manmohan Singh (88 years) and A.K. Antony (80 years) to Ambika Soni (78 years), Digvijaya Singh (73 years) and Ahmed Patel (71 years). They are in the Rajya Sabha and have rarely preferred to seek the peoples’ vote for the Lok Sabha.

Where does the younger generation stand in Indian politics?

The options appear simpler for those in the Congress who could now take a cue from leaders like Jyotiraditya or the well-regarded Sachin Pilot (43 years) in Rajasthan.

Should the GOP still be disinclined to learn any lessons, they may find themselves hobbling, even hurtling, towards an eventual disintegration. In that event, a few viable state-level units (where the Congress maintains some presence) might emerge from the process. Such units—unfettered by central intervention—may succeed in striking alignments of their own with a larger Opposition alliance before the 2024 polls.

A part of the space, as vacated by Congress, would be occupied by the BJP.

As of now, all this must remain in the womb of time.

Arun Bhatnagar was formerly in the Madhya Pradesh cadre of the IAS.


One Reply to “Endgame of ageing Congress?”

  1. The “GOP” is incapable of learning. Period. Simply because, like the proverbial ‘crabs in a barrel’, no one wants another to be above him/her; merit etc are of no consequence in this. The ONLY person who could shut them all up was anyone from “The Family”, which is a hallowed institution for them because everyone is willing to just obey them. This is NOT a political party. We err in assuming it is.

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