Months after leaving the Congress for the BJP, Jyotiraditya Scindia says he won’t dwell on the past and that his association with the Congress is a closed chapter. Commenting on the ‘item’ remark by Kamal Nath against Imarti Devi, Scindia says it shows the former chief minister’s “level of arrogance”.
How does it feel leaving the Congress and being with the BJP?
I am a member of the BJP. I see it as an honour to work under the guidance of PM Narendra Modi and party president JP Nadda as well as home minister Amit Shah. I do believe that this government, both at the Centre and in the state (Madhya Pradesh), will deliver in terms of development and progress. We have put in place a specific roadmap for the state. Works have been sanctioned… end goal is development and progress.
Do you see the bypolls in Madhya Pradesh as a matter of prestige? Do you worry that your ability to deliver will be seen as justification for the BJP to bring you in?
Not at all. This testament has to be one of delivery and progress. That’s the rationale of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, and we have delivered in the last few months. Juxtapose this with what the Kamal Nath government did. The CM did not even have the decency to visit the districts for people’s blessings. There was complete disconnect with the people.
Did you ever try telling him that?
I don’t want to dwell too much on the past. In life, I feel it’s very easy to be opportunistic. There is dignity in silence. But these issues of development and corruption have been raised by me in the past.
Did you ever get a sense that you were not being given importance by Kamal Nath, and therefore in this sense, the bypoll is a personal fight with him?
Not at all. And I don’t want to indulge in personal attacks. I very readily acquiesced to someone else being made the Pradesh Congress Committee chief in Madhya Pradesh. I readily accepted when someone else was made the chief minister. I had a little contribution in the formation of the state government, but I did my work.
On the ‘item’ controversy, we heard the clarification from Kamal Nath. He said the BJP is trying to divert attention from the key issues…
There is certainly a minimum level of decency that politicians must follow. They should be role models. They have the right to go out, campaign and reach out to the people. There is a lady (Imarti Devi) who has risen from the grassroots. She was part of your cabinet, and to go to that level and call her an ‘item’… If this is the politics of the people who don’t care about women and Dalits, then I have nothing to say. Also when the party’s ex-president asks the former chief minister to apologise and he says ’bhaad me jao (get lost)’, that shows you the level of arrogance that the gentleman possesses. I think we all make mistakes and when you apologise, your stature doesn’t come down. It goes up.
Rahul Gandhi had asked whether Mr Scindia can question people in his party when they attack a woman…
Of course, we can. Mr Gandhi knows that I call a spade a spade. There cannot be double standards as far as I am concerned.
Rahul Gandhi had said when you quit that you were one of the people who could walk into his house and meet him.
Let me just tell you that I don’t want to go in the past. I have maintained a studied silence. I know many in politics believe that when an opportunity comes, then you use it to hit out. I am not one of those people. I have believed that there is dignity in silence. I don’t want to talk about the past. My past vis-à-vis the Congress is over.
What do you make of Rahul Gandhi attacking the prime minister?
I have never believed in personal attacks. I will never do it.
Did they ever stop you from leaving the Congress?
I won’t comment. I will believe in dignity of silence.