Media Watch: The “Scindia Saga” gaffe

Lalit Shastri

Scindia Saga: In this 30 minute programme on CNN News 18 telecast from 8.00 pm to 8.30 pm (14 March 2020), Pallavi Ghosh traced the rivalry between Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijay Singh (in her own words) to “1997 when Digvijay became MP CM instead of Madhavrao Scindia, who was the front-runner for the post”. Such a gaffe is unexpected by a journalist at Pallavi Ghosh’s level in a prime time programme. This happened in 1993 and not 1997. And even then, there was a last moment message from Madhavrao Scindia to extend support to Shyama Charan Shukla just before the crucial Congress Legislature Party meeting to elect the CLP leader after the 1993 State Assembly election at the end of one year of President’s Rule that was imposed in the wake of the Babri demolition. In that CLP meeting, the Arjun Singh faction backed Digvijay and got him elected as leader. This was in the backdrop when Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao was almost on the verge of nominating SC Shukla as leader but after getting Scindia’s support, SC Shukla became sure of victory and had pressed for election, which he lost. Rest is history as Digvijay then ruled Madhya Pradesh continuously for 10 years from 1993 to 2003.

I remember, it was around midnight (Dec 1993)…I was the only journalist waiting near the flight of stairs leading to the first floor hall at the CM’s official Shamla Hill residence where the Congress legislators were busy electing their leader when Digvijay came rushing down and called for his driver to send him on an errand. That’s when he turned to me and broke the news that he had been elected leader. I got my news, which became The Hindu headline the next day.

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