Bharatiya Janata Party MP Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday called Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh “biggest traitors” of Madhya Pradesh, accusing them of betraying voters trust by running a corrupt government.

In an interview with PTI, Scindia claimed he tried approaching “every port of call” to get Nath and Singh to change their corrupt ways, but failed and had no option but to leave the Congress.

The Rajya Sabha MP’s stinging criticism of his former allies came ahead of the bye-elections in Madhya Pradesh. It was necessitated after the Congress government in the state fell when 22 of its MLAs walked away with Scindia, resigning their Assembly seats and joining the BJP. Besides, three seats were already lying vacant owing to the death of sitting MLAs.

The Congress has made the bye-elections a vote on the “betrayal” of Scindia and his loyalists, who the party says ditched the mandate of the people. Congress leader Premchand Guddu even declared that the Scindias have historically betrayed the people as they did the Rani of Jhansi and called him a “gaddar”, or a traitor.

But Scindia claimed that Nath and Singh had betrayed the people of the state by not fulfilling their promises. “If they indeed are using that term, then the biggest gaddars in Madhya Pradesh are Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh who have been gaddars towards seven and a half crore people because none of the poll promises were fulfilled,” the Rajya Sabha MP told PTI.

Scindia added that the two Congress leaders were busy with “rant-seeking” activities. Instead of serving the people of the state, both of them were holding on to their “power and chair”, he said.

He also expressed confidence that the BJP will win a majority, if not all of the 28 Assembly seats where bye-polls will be held on November 3. Scindia noted that 27 out of the 28 seats going for votes were Congress seats. “So, the BJP has everything to gain, while the Congress has everything to lose,” he said.

“The Congress needs to win 28 out of 28 seats to be able to even think of coming close to forming the government and they have just lost another MLA [in Rahul Lodhi] who has joined the BJP. It is very clear that people do not have any hope in the Congress party, not only at grassroots, but also in sitting MLAs of the Congress.”  

— Jyotiraditya Scindia

Scindia also mocked the Congress government for failing to keep its leaders united and said the series of defections from the party that began with his exit is worsening. Several Congress MLAs have switched sides ahead of the bye-polls, with the latest being on Sunday as the party’s Damoh MLA Rahul Singh joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“I do not think in any other state you would have seen MLAs in such a large number – almost about 30% – leaving,” he said. “It very clearly shows the lack of trust and faith in the state leadership of the Congress party which is Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh, and who are in a partnership.”

‘I tried to change the Kamal Nath government’: Scindia

The BJP leader also questioned Nath’s competence in running a government. He said that when the Congress came to power, aspirations of citizens of the state rested squarely on the shoulders of Nath, but he chose to run a “corruption-riddled government during the span of 15 months”.

The BJP MP accused the Congress of “literally ridiculing and belittling” the aspirations of the people. He said that flustered by the allegedly corrupt nature of Nath’s dispensation, he decided to leave.

“I tried to change the way the [Kamal Nath] government was functioning for 15 months, I went to every single port of call that one can to try and address these issues, but when they lay unaddressed, what option was I left with...Not fulfilling any of the election promises left me no options but to look for a better governance mechanism for the people of the state. I firmly believe that the Shivraj Singh government would be able to provide that to the people under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah.” 

— Jyotiraditya Scindia

The saffron party leader added that unlike the Congress, he was willing to do “whatever it requires” to fulfil the aspirations of people. “And if it entails sometimes fighting with those with whom you have worked for over 20 years, so be it,” he said.

A file photo of Jyotiraditya Scindia with Kamal Nath. [Credit: PTI]

On Kamal Nath’s ‘item’ comment

Scindia also deplored Nath’s sexist comment about Bharatiya Janata Party leader Imarti Devi, who he referred to as an “item”. The BJP leader said the former chief minister’s remarks revealed his mentality towards women and Dalits.

Scindia said the remark was directed at a woman who has risen from the grassroots-level, fought a sarpanch election, became MLA three times and had been a Cabinet minister in the Kamal Nath government.

Devi was one of the 22 MLAs who resigned in March, toppling the Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. She eventually joined the BJP and became the Cabinet minister for Women and Child Development.

Scindia also chastised Nath for claiming he addressed Devi like that because he had forgotten her name. “Kamal Nath says he cannot remember her name, which shows his arrogance of power that he cannot remember the name of a colleague who was part of his Cabinet,” the BJP leader said. “After all, he was only the chief minister, who is the first among equals, and she was a colleague.”

Scindia alleged that even Digvijaya Singh had made similar derogatory comments about former MP Meenakshi Natrajan two to three years ago. “This shows the attitude of the Congress party towards women and scheduled castes,” he said.