‘Can’t contest if you’re unwell’ — BJP minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia opts out of MP polls

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Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia has opted out of the upcoming assembly election, citing ill health — a development that comes at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is looking to retain power for yet another term.

The minister of skill development and employment, sports, youth welfare, and technical education is from the erstwhile royal family of Gwalior. The aunt of Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and the sister of former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, Yashodhara is currently an MLA from Shivpuri — a seat she had previously represented from 1998 to 2007 and then again in 2013.

Yashodhara confirmed to ThePrint that she had opted out of the race. She said that she suffered from COVID-19 four times and that it had left her weak. 

“I’ve had no time to recover,” she said. “I had sent a letter to the party more than a month ago. You cannot contest if you are not well and I have (other) personal reasons for not contesting.” 

Yashodhara also ruled out the possibility of her sons contesting the election, saying they lived in the US. Her sons, Abhishek and Akshay, both live in the US.

The development comes at a time when the BJP is reluctant to declare the incumbent Shivraj Singh Chouhan as its CM face in the upcoming election. At least half a dozen leaders are now vying for the coveted post. 

The BJP has so far declared 79 candidates — including three Union ministers, four MPs, and its national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. Chouhan’s candidature hasn’t been announced yet

Meanwhile, Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is seen as a chief ministerial contender if the BJP retains power, still hasn’t spelt out whether he plans to contest the election.

Asked if he plans to do so at a press interaction in Indore earlier this week, Jyotiraditya called himself “just a party worker”. “The BJP is a party of workers, and every one of them fulfils the responsibility considering it as their duty,” he said.

Significantly, in 2020, Jyotiraditya — then in the Congress party — had led a rebellion against then chief minister Kamal Nath, which led to the fall of the Congress government and brought back Chouhan as the CM for the fourth time.  

Also Read: MP BJP leaders ‘unhappy’. Vijayvargiya says, ‘I am a big leader, where will I go with folded hands?’

Erstwhile royal with strong political background

As the minister for sports, youth welfare, and technical education, Yashodhara is credited with revamping sports facilities in the state and developing its tourism sector. In 2006, the then Shivraj Singh Chouhan government issued a gazette notification saying Yashodhara, also a minister then, would be addressed as ‘Shrimant’ (Your Highness).  

Yashodhara won her first assembly election from Shivpuri in 1998. In 2007, she was elected into the 15th Lok Sabha as a BJP candidate from Gwalior. In 2013, Yashodhara returned to Madhya Pradesh and won Shivpuri again by beating Congress’s Birendra Raghuvanshi by 11,145 votes. In 2018, she yet again trounced Congress’s Siddharth Ladha by 28,227 votes.

Meanwhile, after he lost the 2013 election, Raghuvanshi, who was then considered a loyalist of Jyotiraditya Scindia, blamed himfor not doing enough to help beat his aunt. He eventually joined the BJP, winning the 2018 assembly poll from Kolaras. 

In August, Raghuvanshi again returned to the Congress, accusing Jyotiraditya’s supporters of “persecution” of original BJP workers. He is tipped to get a Congress ticket from Shivpuri. That could pit him against Yashodhara once again, if goes back on her decision and decides to contest the election.  

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: 46 MLAs won 2018 MP poll by less than 3% votes. How it may affect BJP & Congress prospects now


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