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The man who gets things done

Keeping up a punishing pace on the campaign trail, Jyotiraditya Scindia points to the enormous amount of development he has brought to his constituency in the 7 years he has been MP, reports Arnab Mitra.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2009 00:32 IST
Arnab Mitra

People’s prince
Jyotiraditya Scindia

Born: January 1, 1971

Education: Campion School, Mumbai and
Doon School, Dehradun; BA (Economics), Harvard University; MBA, Stanford University.

Work experience:
Intern at the UN Economic Development Cell, investment banker with Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley
Political career:
Elected to the Lok Sabha from Guna (Madhya Pradesh) in a 2002 bypoll following the death of his father Madhavrao Scindia — who held the seat — in an air crash.
Re-elected MP from Guna in 2004
Appointed Minister of State for IT and Communications on April 6, 2008

As MP, he has initiated development work worth Rs 2,100 crore in his
constituency, and another
Rs 1,300 crore in neighbouring Gwalior, Bhind and Morena regions.

He has brought every available development scheme to his constituency.
The following are some of the major investments he has brought to Guna (this is not a complete list):
Power projects:
Rs 750 crore
Roads: Rs 734 crore
Telecom towers:
Rs 100 crore
Water, sanitation and sewerage projects:
Rs 100 crore
Education: Rs 50 crore
He has also been successful in getting five trains to to Guna over the last five years (one in each Railway Budget)

He has also convinced Fab India to source fabrics from Chanderi, which falls within his constituency, thus, ensuring a regular market for weavers.
The black Ford Endeavor raced down the expressway at over 100 kmph. Sitting in the passenger seat next to the grey-uniformed driver, Jyotiraditya Scindia, 38, clad in blue striped kurta and white churidar, turned towards the rear seat and said with a smile: “The people of Guna had been asking for a bypass for the past 22 years. I promised to get it built in 22 months if they elected me — and delivered on my promise.”

Result: the 1,000-odd trucks that earlier passed through Guna town, 220 km south of Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh – causing massive traffic jams and killing hundreds in accidents — now take the bypass.

This is only a tiny fraction of all the development Scindia has initiated in his constituency, comprising three districts —Guna, Ashokenagar and Shivpuri. “I’ve brought every single central government scheme available to my constituency,” he told HT. Little wonder then that he is contesting on the development plank and his track record so far.

Scindia had set out on the campaign trail at 10.00 am.

Curiously, despite his being a minister, there were no gun-toting security guards hovering around him, no pilot cars clearing his way, and no red beacon atop his SUV – only two plainclothesmen, who followed discreetly in a Toyota Qualis.

His first stop, an hour later, was at Tonkli, a small rural hamlet of about 1,000 farmers.

Supporters rushed forward, garlands in hand. “Maharaj zindabad,” they shouted as the large SUV slowed down. Scindia smiled, but politely declined the proffered garlands. “Sorry, I’m not accepting garlands as I’m observing the 13-day mourning period for Makhan Lal Jatav,” he said. Jatav, a young backward caste Congress MLA had been murdered in Bhind district on April 13.

Almost all of Tonkli had come out to greet their young MP. A short welcome speech by a local Congress leader later, Scindia, portable microphone in hand, began addressing the crowd. Speaking extempore —“I depend on instinct to connect with my people,” he said later — he reminded the audience of his family’s long association with them.

“Birds of passage will come with folded hands during elections to seek your votes and then disappear,” he said, referring to Narottam Mishra, his BJP rival and a non-local. “But the Scindias always stand by you in your hour of need. Don’t they?” The crowd broke into spontaneous applause.

He then launched into a no holds-barred attack on Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. “He calls himself the people’s pujari (priest). Then, the pujari sends his ‘god’ a Rs 30,000 bill at the end of the month and imprisons ‘god’ when he can’t pay it.”

Scindia was referring to the Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to increase power tariffs and imprison defaulting farmers in the Malwa and Mahakaushal regions of the state. The move has led to massive resentment among the common people.

His address was more of a conversation with his listeners than a speech. “You wanted a road connecting Ashokenagar to Aaron. Have I delivered?” he asked.

“Yes,” roared the crowd, breaking into chants of “Maharaja Scindia zindabad.”

“I’ve visited Guna, Shivpuri and Ashokenagar 3-4 times a month for five years, and I’ve announced new projects every single day I’ve spent here.”

More applause.

Then came the punch line: “Remember, on April 30, you have to work for one hour (to go the polling booth, stand in a queue and cast your vote). Press the button next to the hand (the Congress symbol). In return, I promise to work for five years.”

The same scenes were repeated, with minor variations, in Bhainsarwas, Kakruda Rai and five-six other villages in Ashokenagar district. The mercury had climbed to about 40 degrees Centigrade by mid-afternoon, but Scindia’s only concession to the heat was to sip lemon juice, kept cool in a thermos flask, from time to time. Lunch, taken around 3 pm, is just a tomato-cucumber sandwich and a cutlet.

His final programme was a public meeting at the Shivpuri Polo Ground, to which he had invited Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit.

Several thousands had gathered at the ground. Scindia and Dixit, who arrived in an open jeep, were greeted with massive applause. “The UPA government has given you an average growth rate of 8.5 per cent over the last five years despite the worldwide recession over the last year-and-a-half. The NDA could manage only 6.5 per cent,” Dixit, who spoke first, said.

“Jyotiraditya Scindia is like my son,” she added. “And I know, you will never refuse a mother’s request to vote for her son.”

Scindia stood up to address the gathering amid huge applause. In a hard-hitting speech, he lashed out at the BJP government’s five-year misrule in the state and targeted the chief minister in particular, accusing him of corruption and political immorality.

Following the meeting, Scindia resumed his tour of the villages. By the time he finished, it was past 11.00 pm. He had covered more than 350 km during the day.

The next day, the country roads would beckon again.