Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia paid tributes at the memorial of Rani Laxmibai in what was probably the first visit to the site by a member of the erstwhile royal family of Gwalior.
But Congress leaders said this was not enough to expiate the “sin” of Mr Scindia’s ancestors who did not support the legendary Rani during the 1857 rebellion; and party workers even tried to `purify’ the memorial on Tuesday.
Mr Scindia visited the `samadhi’ of the Queen of Jhansi on Sunday.
Laxmibai, one of the most famous leaders of the rebellion, was killed in battle with British forces in Gwalior on June 18, 1858.
Congress MLA Laxman Singh hailed Mr Scindia, tweeting that “Bowing of Jyotiraditya Scindia before the statue of Rani of Jhansi is a courageous step.” Madhya Pradesh BJP spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi said Rani Laxmibai is a symbol of sacrifice, and by paying respects at her memorial, Mr Scindia has “honoured the valour of those who laid down their lives for the country.” But senior state Congress leader KK Mishra said Mr Scindia can not atone for his family’s history by this act.
It was a “well-known fact that the Scindias had not supported” Rani Laxmibai’s rebellion against the British, he claimed.
“The sin committed in 1857 cannot be washed away in 2021 by Jyotiraditya Scindia’s visit to the memorial of the warrior queen,” the Congress leader said.
On Sunday, Mr Scindia, accompanied by Madhya Pradesh Energy Minister Pradyumna Singh Tomar, visited Laxmibai’s samadhi in Phool Bagh area while returning from a program.
The civil aviation minister, who quit Congress in 2020 and joined the BJP, paid floral tributes and bowed before the Queen of Jhansi.
MP Congress spokesperson Narendra Singh Saluja took a jibe at Mr Scindia, saying, “What all the BJP is forcing him to do after he joined the saffron party for a post and chair.” Former state BJP minister Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya and followers of Rani Laxmibai might now clean the samadhi with Ganga Jal (water from the River Ganga, considered to be holy), he added.
Mr Pawaiya was once Mr Scindia’s detractor. But after joining the BJP, Mr Scindia had paid a courtesy visit to Mr Pawaiya’s residence in Gwalior.
On Tuesday, a group of Congress workers including women went to the memorial carrying Ganga Jal and flowers.
“They were prevented from entering the premises as it got crowded. One of them was allowed to offer flowers at the samadhi but no purification took place,” said Additional Superintendent of Police Satendra Singh Tomar.
Some local Congress leaders claimed that purification did take place.
District president of Congress’ women cell Ruchi Gupta said merely by bowing before the samadhi, the slur on the Scindia clan’s reputation would not vanish, and therefore party workers purified the memorial with Ganga Jal.
“Police prevented us from entering the samadhi and also locked the gate, but later they allowed us to offer flowers,” said Siddharth Rajawat, another state Congress spokesperson.
Mr Scindia should first apologize to the people of the country as in 1857 his ancestors sided with the British instead of supporting Rani Laxmibai which delayed independence by nearly 100 years, he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)