MP BJP leader,too, was a victim of Advani’s whim
Posted September 2, 2009on:
The turbulent goings-on in the BJP at the Centre, particularly in the context of Vasundhara Raje and B.C.Khanduri, have reopened an old wound of a senior Madhya Pradesh leader also. At least there is a reason, however specious, for removal of Khanduri as the Uttarakhand chief minister and for asking the former Rajasthan chief minister to step down as the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly —they are accused of failure to ensure good electoral performance in their States. But Babulal Gaur is still asking for some reason for his removal as the Madhya Pradesh chief minister four years ago.
While Raje has for some time been showing open resistance to the BJP leadership’s diktat to step down as the Leader of Opposition and Khanduri has given vent to his anguish in a missive to the party’s top leadership, Gaur has done no such thing. He has been putting his question to his friends and well-wishers in the party – sometimes through media also. Just as he had put the agony of having been unceremoniously removed as the chief minister out of his mind, Khanduri’s communication to the BJP high command has once again revived the painful memory.
The 1930-born Gaur, home minister in the Uma Bharati government, replaced her in August 2004 after she was asked to resign and surrender before the Hubli court in answer to a non-bailable warrant for allegedly instigating communal riots there in 1994 by forcibly hoisting the National Flag at a sensitive place. She later claimed that she was assured of her return to the post after she had cleared the court case.
The BJP high command was, however, in no mood to reinstate her as the chief minister, for which she blamed the coterie surrounding then BJP president Lal Krishna Advani. A large majority of the BJP MLAs, she had claimed, were with her but the BJP high command remained unconcerned. As the time passed, she became bitter and even started using abusive language against the so-called coterie, particularly Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley and (late) Pramod Mahajan.
Under constant pressure from Uma Bharati and her supporters, the Central leadership of the BJP agreed to make a change of guard at 6, Shamla Hills (the chief minister’s residence in Bhopal) and Advani himself asked Babulal Gaur to resign. Gaur later told media persons in Bhopal that he was in the midst of a function at Indore when he received a telephone call from Advani asking him to resign. He had faxed his resignation to Advani and soon after he submitted it to the Governor.
The MLAs and others in the party, who were demanding Uma Bharati’s return as the chief minister, were agog. But their euphoria did not last long as it was announced in Delhi that (then) State BJP president Shivraj Singh Chauhan, and not Uma Bharati, would replace Babulal Gaur.
The Uma camp’s anguish found expression in former Union Minister Prahlad Patel’s observation that “only poison has come to our lot”. The allusion was to the mythological Samudra-Manthan (churning of the ocean) in which 14 precious items had come out and Lord Vishnu had manipulated in such a way that the poison had gone to the lot of the Asurs (demons) while the Devatas had got the Amrit (nectar). Patel, then chief spokesman of the Uma camp, had been describing their crusade for the change of leadership in Madhya Pradesh as Manthan (churning) in the party.
Still, the Uma supporters had not given up hope altogether. They were present in full strength the following day at the BJP office where a meeting of the Legislature Party was convened to elect the new leader.
But there was no election. BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley, who was in charge of Madhya Pradesh affairs, simply announced that the party’s Parliamentary Board had proposed under Section 25 of the party constitution that Shivraj Singh Chauhan would be the leader of the Legislature Party in Madhya Pradesh. He was deputed by the high command, along with then party vice-president Rajnath Singh and another general secretary Pramod Mahajan, to convey to the Legislature Party the decision of the Parliamentary Board.
Uma Bharati had expressed her opposition to the procedure adopted by the party for the election of the leader. As it was pointed out to her that she, and other MLAs, could only either support or oppose the Parliamentary Board’s proposal, “as per the party’s directive”, she announced that she was walking out. The police had to use lathi-charge to disperse her agitated supporters outside the BJP office.
Gaur never made an issue of his removal but he has not been able to keep it out of his mind. He had been constantly asking the party leaders why he was directed to resign but he never got a reply. He, though, had of late stopped referring to his removal. But now with Khanduri having challenged the BJP leadership’s decision, Gaur’s excruciation has once again come to the fore.