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Faces from Gwalior
|by Dr. Amitabh Mitra|
It's strange that from my childhood time during every election, I felt sad. There was always somebody who would be elected and represent Gwalior in the Parliament as a back bencher. The beauty of Gwalior was always mercilessly trampled by such people who never knew the actual Gwalior. The parliamentary seat always went to obscure people who obviously have used their financial clout to get a seat allotted for them. M.J.Akbar, a former Member of Parliament and a well known literary figure has confessed in his blog about the vast amount of money which each contesting member spends to retain the constituency.
In 1977, he switched to the Congress Party despite resistance from his larger family, and won the Gwalior seat a second time. In order to avoid a direct contest with his mother, he later shifted to the neighboring constituency of Guna. But in 1984, he was nominated the Congress candidate in Gwalior as a last-minute maneuver to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party's Atal Behari Vajpayee, and won by a massive margin. Since then Madhavraoji contested from either Gwalior or Guna and won on each occasion.
Unfortunately in spite of representing Gwalior a number of times, Gwalior remains a dusty old town full of derelict architecture, tombs and mausoleums and an era which somehow lost its way while passing through. The only notable thing he did was sprucing up the Railway station and starting a few luxury trains to Gwalior. He couldn't attract many industries nor investments to Gwalior. He may not have done anything for Gwalior, but he was the face of Gwalior in the Parliament and internationally known for his spectacular speeches on any subject. Madhavraoji had a deep interest and commitment to literary activities. Thus instead of restricting his visits to political meetings, he was often the guest of honor in literary and cultural programs. On such occasions people used to request him to recite a poem after his formal lecture was over. He always used to oblige people by reciting choice poems or Urdu shayari. Madhavraoji died in an air-crash in 2001 leaving Gwaliorites with little hope for future.
Another face which remains popular in Gwalior till today is that of my friend Brijendra Tiwari. Popularly known as Munna Tiwari, he remains a great guy to get along with. Many an evening, I have spent at his home or in village haveli discussing politics. He stood from Gwalior a number of times but lost unfortunately. He is a member of the Legislative Assembly having won finally from the Gwalior Girdh (Rural) constituency. As a lone voice in Bhopal, he has hardly any support towards the development of Gwalior.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, the son of Shree Madhavrao Scindia remains a very simple person with easy accessibility in spite of being an important Member of Parliament from Guna. He has no airs, and an absolute pleasure to talk on any topic with him. He studied at The Doon School, India, and Harvard University and Stanford University, USA and went on to work as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. He also gained some development experience with the UN Economic Development Cell. He in fact had the distinction of being the only undergraduate intern in the UN Economic Development Cell. I have heard him speak in many debates on Finance and Development on NDtv and in the parliament. He remains a hope for the people of Gwalior.
Member of Parliament who brought shame to the people of Gwalior is Ram Sevak Singh of Congress I Member of Parliament from Lok Sabha . He was caught on camera accepting 50,000 rupees for asking five questions in the Parliament. The sting operation rolled by the news channel Aaj Tak caught 11 MPs taking bribes representing different political parties. Ram Sevak Singh, a virtually unknown face in Gwalior was pushed up suddenly by the Congress I and given a parliamentary seat. It is a well known fact that parliamentary seats are given and not won. Congress I had to remove him from his primary membership as a face saving gesture.
On Sunday March 11, 2007 Yashodhara Raje Scindia of the BJP was declared elected to the Gwalior Lok Sabha seat. She defeated her nearest Congress rival Ashok Singh by over 35,000 votes. The misfortune is that Yashodhara Raje never belonged to Gwalior.
The youngest daughter of Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia, she lived all her life overseas. She returned to India in 1994 and went into formal politics, contesting the Madhya Pradesh State Assembly Elections in 1998 as a member of the Bhartiya Janata Party and then being re-elected 5 years later once again, for a second term in 2003 in the State Assembly elections. She is an active member of her State Legislative Party. Shrimant Yashodhara Raje Scindia was serving in Madhya Pradesh Government as a Cabinet Minister for Tourism, Sports & Youth Welfare. In October/November 2006 Yashodhara created a controversy of sorts when she got the BJP Government in Madhya Pradesh to issue a notice saying that she would be officially addressed as "Shrimant" which means your highness or your majesty. Yashodhara Raje may belong to the royal family of Gwalior but she neither knows where Pagnis ka Bada is nor Mandre ki Mata in Gwalior. Ashok Singh born and bred in Gwalior was a poor choice as a Congress candidate as he couldn't provide the confidence to the Gwalior masses that his candidature needed.
Mrs. Maya Singh, another member of the royal family is the Member of Parliament from BJP in Rajya Sabha. Nominated by the BJP, she never talked on Gwalior or its development.
Dr. Amarjeet Singh Bhalla an ENT Surgeon and the owner of Sahara Hospital, the only major hospital in Gwalior that caters to all and the needy is another face which Gwalior is proud of. I have seen him sending doctors and food packets every week to rural areas. Many a times he was approached by politicians to stand in the elections. He has resisted till now. He would have been the ideal representative which Gwalior has long needed.
Gwalior remains a town with stunted development, roads with potholes everywhere, shopping malls that we only dreamt of, hoardings that stand out like sore thumbs and crumbling historical buildings vandalized and desecrated, streets leading to it tell a story of a once proud heritage.
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