Uma shadow over BJP in Madhya Pradesh
Posted May 9, 2011on:
There is an uneasy quiet in the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh, particularly in the chief minister’s circle. That something was not right with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan was first noticed by observers when Chauhan failed to give his profound observations on Osama’s killing by the US forces; nor did he react to AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh’s comment that even a terrorist like Osama deserved his last rites in accordance with his religious belief. Then it was noticed that Osama and Digvijay Singh were not the only subjects on which Chauhan had maintained silence but he had, in fact, hardly spoken in the past few days.
Restraint or discretion had never been a strong point of Chauhan. If anything, he is only known for shooting his mouth off on every conceivable and inconceivable occasion. The current spell of his low spiritedness is attributed to the impending return of Uma Bharati to the BJP.
The RSS and VHP leaders have for quite some time been pressing the BJP leadership to take back Uma Bharati in the BJP and it was apparently on their advice that she has been behaving contrary to her firebrand image, avoiding controversial issues whenever she speaks. There was a time when Uma had offered the Assembly ticket on behalf of her Bharatiya Jana Shakti Party (BJS) to Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur; but Uma did not even go near Dewas or Indore when Pragya Singh Thakur was brought there for court appearance in connection with the Sunil Joshi murder case.
Uma’s return to the BJP was considered a certainty when former Delhi chief minister Madan Lal Khurana had rejoined the BJP in 2008. Most of those who had left the BJP to join her Bharatiya Jana Shakti (BJS) had already returned to the parent organisation. The change in her attitude had become apparent in Madhya Pradesh. She was no more berating the State BJP leaders or threatening to launch agitations against the Chauhan government. Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who was a ‘bacha-chor’ for her, had become like her elder brother. But her good behaviour did not pay in the face of the stiff opposition by the State and Central leaders.
Lal Krishna Advani has for some time been trying to ensure Uma’s return to the BJP by persuading the leaders opposed to her. He had, however, not succeeded. The talk of Uma’s return to the BJP had again become current when Nitin Gadkari took over as the BJP president. Advani had manoeuvred to bring about reconciliation between Uma Bharati and Babulal Gaur, one of the oldest party leaders in Madhya Pradesh.
The problem in Madhya Pradesh is with Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Not that he is the chief minister (remember how swiftly Uma Bharati and Babulal Gaur were removed, the latter was not told the reason!) but that Chauhan is said to be contributing to the party leaders huge amounts of money which he apparently siphons off from the allocations meant for tribal development, health services and for saving the children from malnutrition. Chauhan gets support in his opposition to Uma Bharati’s return from the central leaders like Sushma Swaraj and Venkaiah Naidu, who have their own reasons to hate Uma Bharati. Arun Jaitley, once a strong opponent to Uma’s return to BJP, is said to have reconciled to the emerging situation.
Prodded by the RSS leadership, Nitin Gadkari has been trying to make Uma’s detractors agree to her return to the party. It was also conveyed to them some time back that her oratory talents would be used in Uttar Pradesh and that she would keep away from Madhya Pradesh; she has herself hinted at it a few times. Chauhan may be an inept and disastrous administrator, but he understands pretty well his self-interest. Only ninnies can believe that Uma Bharati, once in the BJP, will be able to keep herself away from the Madhya Pradesh affairs for long.
Still, the move this time seems more serious than on earlier occasions. Uma Bharati is gradually coming out of the sulk. The smile on her face is getting broader in proportion to the widening scowl on the faces of Chauhan and Prabhat Jha. Last month she suddenly remembered that her guru Vishveshwar Teerth has turned 81 and she held a celebration on the occasion at her Delhi residence. The RSS and the VHP leaders, and also Advani and his family, attended it. The clamour against her return is dying down in Madhya Pradesh.
The nearest hint about the approaching end of her political wilderness she gave was in the first week of May. She made a sudden dash to Ujjain in the afternoon. It was said to be an unscheduled trip. She went straight to the Mahakal temple. The pundits were assembled hurriedly and she performed pooja of Lord Mahakal. While leaving for Bhopal an hour or so later, she told media persons that she always comes to perform pooja of Mahakal before taking a new initiative. Incidentally, she had performed pooja at the Mahakal temple before announcing the formation of her Bharatiya Jana Shakti Party (BJS) also.