"In politics, the only gadget that works is human touch,” said Jyotiraditya Scindia, union minister of state for power, and the Congress face in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, while waving to the crowd, as the eight-seater Eurocopter lifted off the ground.
It was 4.30pm on Saturday and the 42-year-old’s day was far from over. And that’s how it has been ever since he was entrusted with the charge of the Congress campaigning in the state on September 2. Scindia’s day starts at 7.30am and continues way past midnight.
Dressed in a green and white kurta pyjama, his sunglasses perched on his head, as he pored over the route map, he said, “I address 12 meetings a day.”
Flying over the years has made him familiar with the nuances of the navigational route and the Stanford graduate likes to calculate the flying time between rally venues. In a few days, he will be ending his second round of visits to each of the 51 districts of the state.
“I believe in direct contact with people,” said Scindia as he headed for the chopper that takes him across the length and breadth of the state.
His next stop is Chobaradhira — earlier that day he has visited Nepanagar, Pandhana City, and Mhow — a remote village in Sonkatch assembly constituency. Twenty-five minutes later he sprang off the chopper, and got into a waiting SUV that rushed him swiftly to the meeting venue.
It was a medium-sized rally and the venue was choc-a-bloc. Scindia’s name has unfailingly drawn crowds even in some of the remote parts of the state, with many turning up to see the generation next of the Scindia family for the first time. Forty-five minutes later, Scindia was on the move again. This time he was headed for Mangaliya.
A fitness freak and a careful eater, ever since he embarked on the campaign trail Scindia has had no choice but to go easy on the rules. Once in Mangaliya, he gulped down a bottle of water before heading for the rally venue. A round of namastes and the BJP bashing begins.
When the state chief minister cannot protect his own wife from comments of a minister (referring to comments made by tribal welfare minister Vijay Shah), how will he protect the women of the state,” he thundered. Shah had recently made inappropriate comments about Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s wife and was subsequently dropped from the Cabinet.
Scindia, unwilling to be drawn into a conversation about his next possible assignment — as CM — said he is confident of a Congress win. “I know my laxman rekha. I believe in fulfilling the responsibility given to me. Nothing beyond that,” he said, popped a Vicks tablet and took off for the next meeting.