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Remembering Scindia: A leader and a friend

india Updated: Mar 11, 2009 01:44 IST
Shalini Singh
Shalini Singh
Hindustan Times
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“When I received the invitation for the book release function my first reaction was, has it already been seven years that Madhavrao left us?” said Congress president Sonia Gandhi releasing a biography of late Madhavrao Scindia on Tuesday.

She went on to then recall how she got to know Scindia, and understand him. “Adversity brings out the best in people, and at a time when we seemed confident in public but inwardly wondered if we could achieve the impossible…that’s when we met Madhavrao” “What impressed me was that he never gave up or took the easy way out,” said the Congress president, adding, “His answers were straight and advice always good. When I came to Parliament for the first time, he stood by as a deputy leader, sharing a great deal of the burden.”

Journalist Vir Sanghvi, who has co-authored the biography with Namita Bhandare said the book — Madhavrao Scindia: A Life — also tries to “capture a sense of modern India”. It traces Madhavrao’s royal lineage, the falling out with his mother, his ideologies, work as a politician and his untimely death.

Sanghvi knew Scindia well as a friend. He called Scindia a “charismatic” and a “bright” man who put “honour” above everything else. “He was always worried about being misrepresented, especially during the Emergency and the Hawala scandal. His honour was most important to him,” said Sanghvi, who is a former editor of Hindustan Times.

Sanghvi went on to recount his first meeting — in 1977 in Mumbai — with the son of last ruling king of Gwalior.
“Madhavrao came across as very confident. A man who through the 70s inhabited two worlds: one, as part of the richest royal families in India and two, as someone educated at Oxford, with his liberal ideas, later rebelling against the right ideologies.”

Madhavi Raje Scindia, wife of late Madhavrao Scindia, welcomed guests to the book release, and recalled her husband’s close association with the Congress. She said, “It’s an honour to have Sonia Gandhi on this occasion. My husband had always admired the sacrifices she had made and the dignity and selflessness with which she executed her duties.”

Scindia's son Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is Union minister of state for communications and IT, was also there.