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Nostalgia makes Guna vote for Maharaj-turned-MP

April 27, 2009

A Ganesh Nadar travels to Shivpuri, the former fiefdom of the Scindias, to gauge the voters' reactions to their erstwhile royal family.

Guna district in Madhya Pradesh is located between Gwalior and Bhopal. Here, trucks and tractors, carrying both crops and passengers, compete with each other on the national highway. Accidents are common and gruesome as everyone seems to be in a tearing hurry.

Guna is a political stronghold of the Scindia family, which ruled this princely state before Independence.

Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia and her son Madhavrao both represented Guna in the Lok Sabha. On Thursday, Vijayaraje's grandson and Madhavrao's son Jyotiraditya, the sitting MP from Guna, seeks re-election.

In the 2008 assembly election, the Bharatiya Janata Party won seven out of the eight seats in Guna, a campaign interestingly masterminded by the current MP from Gwalior, Yashodhara Raje, Vijayaraje's youngest daughter and Madhavrao's sister. Despite that electoral arithmetic, locals believe that 'Maharaj,' as the younger Scindia is unversally known in this region, will win Guna convincingly.

Image: Voters like Sanjay, a teastall owner in Shivpuri, will decide the fate of the younger Scindia on Thursday.

Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar

Also see: The steel behind the Gandhi smile | India Votes 2009