The ‘Maharaja of Gwalior’ rallied his troops for war. “Mera senapati apne qila ka hifazat karega (My commanders will protect the fort),” Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, the 52-year-old scion of Gwalior’s erstwhile royal family, said as he addressed BJP workers at Piprai village in Madhya Pradesh’s Ashok Nagar district on October 29. Scindia spots a party worker in the crowd sipping water and addresses him directly, “My commander, you can drink water later; now is the time for war.” Around 250 km away, atop a hill, lies the Raghogarh fort, where the traditional opponents of the Gwalior royal family have set in motion a plan to unseat Scindia and the ruling BJP from the Gwalior-Chambal region. Clutching a walkie-talkie in his hand, Jaivardhan Singh, the 37-year-old son of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh and heir to the erstwhile Raghogarh princely state of the Gwalior Residency, is busy surveying the seats where rebel candidates of the Congress might damage the party’s prospects. “There is an undercurrent in this election,” says Jaivardhan as he turns off his walkie-talkie to talk to The Indian Express. “Our main strategy is to take the message to every home in Gwalior-Chambal that Scindia backstabbed the people’s mandate, which is the biggest sin.”
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