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'The language of politics has to change'

April 27, 2009
Archana Masih and photographer Seema Pant travel to Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh, to find out if the Scindia mystique endures and will ensure a young royal's victory. The first of a series on the three Scindias in the fray this election.

Jyotiraditya Scindia is in mourning. The Union minister of state for telecom refuses to accept any garlands from well wishers who come forward with marigold strands as he campaigns in the dry, blistering heat of Guna, worlds away from his homes in Gwalior and New Delhi.

"I am mouning the death of Makhan Lal Jatavji. Please do not garland me," he tells people at street corners where they wait to greet the 38-year-old MP they call Maharaj.

On April 14, Jatav, a Congress legislator, was killed in neighbouring Bhind as he got into his car after addressing an election meeting, and it is his death that Scindia is grieving. "He was as old as me, a Dalit MLA who was committed to his work and the Scindia family will mourn his cruel death for 13 days," he tells an election meeting in Karai village, wearing a black arm band.

Looking leaner than what he appears on television and in photographs, Jyotiraditya is following a tough campaign schedule -- he has campaigned in 14 other parliamentary constituencies for the Congress and is back in Guna in the final days before campaigning ends.

"I come here often and have worked for the constituency. I do not just come here before election time," he says as he seeks a third re-election from Guna, from where his grandmother and doyen of the Bharatiya Janata Party Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia won her first election in 1957, and his father Madhavrao Scindia won his first election in 1971 aged just 26.

The Scindias -- Rajmata, Madhavrao, Jyotiraditya -- have represented Guna in ten of the 14 elections that India has seen.

Your family has a bond with the area, it is not just about coming and winning elections -- how heavy is this responsibility on your shoulders?

It is a responsibility, but I won't want to say it is a heavy responsibility. It is a delight, a passion and this is my commitment. It is a legacy. I have to fulfill my father's dream which is an onerous and huge task. It is also a challenge for me.

Image: Jyotiraditya Scindia on the campaign trail.

Also read: Special: In Guna, the legacy continues | India Votes

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