Madhya Pradesh misses Uma Bharati!
Posted August 3, 2009on:
We are missing Uma Bharati as the opposition leader. We are also missing Prahlad Patel as the opposition leader. The two have not been heard of for long — and this has created a sort of vacuum in the politics of Madhya Pradesh.
Uma, with her charismatic personality and her mercurial nature, was often in the news even when she was in the BJP, quite often because of her whimsical actions — such as occupying an already reserved berth in an AC coach of a train and smilingly turning away the bonafide passenger or forcing a superfast train to be halted where it did not have a stop or insisting on travelling in the engine of a train. Once in her ebullience, she offered cake to Hanuman, the mythological monkey-god on “his” supposed birthday, creating a different kind of controversy as someone pointed out that the cake contained eggs. Prahlad Patel was a serious type of person, mostly engaged in “serious” matters, such as the incidence of AIDS among goats.
The two had left the BJP simultaneously and had jointly formed their new outfit called Bharatiya Jana Shakti (BJS). Then they fell out with each other over Uma Bharati’s flip-flops concerning her attitude to the BJP. Still, the two continued to function as the real opposition leaders in their own way. All the other opposition parties, with their large numerical strength, have not been able to highlight the people’s grievances and expose corruption in the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government as these two had done in a short span though Uma Bharati hardly had any viable organisation with her while Patel had none.
It was Prahlad Patel who had first obtained the documents showing that JP Associates had “gifted” four dumpers to the chief minister’s wife Sadhna Singh Chauhan and that these dumpers were fraudulently registered in the RTO at Rewa. It attracted little public attention till Uma Bharati, always the darling of the media, took up the matter and observed that the chief minister’s wife Sadhna Singh Chauhan has two husbands: one is Shivraj Singh Chauhan who is the chief minister, and the other is some S.R.Singh “who is an employee of the Jaypee Cement”. (The allusion being to the registration certificates of controversial dumpers showing Sadhna Singh Chauhan as the wife of S.R.Singh of Jaypee Cement, Rewa).
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Jamuna Devi took up the matter from there and collected the official records to show that Shivraj Singh Chauhan had, soon after becoming the chief minister, illegally leased out mines to the JP Associates for its cement factory and the JP Associates had “gifted” the four dumpers to the chief minister’s wife, it being a case of quid pro quo. Jamuna Devi took the matter to then Lokayukta Ripusudan Dayal who refused to act till the designated court specifically directed the Lokayukta Organisation to investigate the matter. How Dayal bungled it has already been reported in detail. Now all eyes are on new Lokayukta Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar.
The details of Dayal’s unaccounted bank transactions in Bhopal, Delhi and Meerut were also submitted to the Governor by Uma Bharati and Prahlad Patel, separately. Besides, it was Patel who had dug up the corruption cases against senior bureaucrats which Dayal had ordered to be closed for benefits to himself or his sons.
The Congress and other opposition parties were virtually sleeping when the Chauhan government took the decision that fair price shops under the PDS would remain open only for three days in a month. These shops are meant to serve those living below the poverty line who have neither the money to buy food grains in bulk nor the space to store these even if they manage to buy in bulk. Uma Bharati took up the cause of the poor and, accompanied by her BJS activists, raided a fair price shop in Bhopal, broke the locks and asked the poor to take the food grains. The police had reached the spot in good strength but they remained stupefied, not knowing what to do. It was only after the former chief minister had left that they decided to register a criminal case, against anonymous offenders.
Uma Bharati’s action exposed Chauhan’s anti-poor face. Some cabinet colleagues of his were said to have later expressed their unhappiness before the chief minister and also before national organising secretary of the party Ramlal (who was in Bhopal that day) over the government order about the three-day restriction for keeping the PDS shops open. The government quietly revised the order.
Uma attracted big crowds at her meetings and she is, no doubt, an effective orator. The issues she had been highlighting are relevant even today: the prevailing malnutrition, corruption in allotments of lands for construction of malls, the schools and colleges being run by the BJP leaders illegally, allotment of lands to the BJP leaders in violation of the laws, lack of medical facilities, the power crisis because of thefts and “commissionkhori” (cutbacks), acute shortage of drinking water because of corruption, bungling in mid-day meal scheme and so on.
It was a loss to the people when Uma Bharati quietly left for Delhi to “help Advani become the Prime Minister” — the same Advani whom she had in the past described as a security threat to the nation and observed that one did not become Prime Minister merely by writing a book. Soon after, Patel also quietly rejoined the BJP. That was the end of effective opposition in Madhya Pradesh, at least for the time being.