Uma Bharati’s Uttar Pradesh Chakravyooha
Posted June 15, 2011on:
Uma Bharati is back in the BJP, but she may not be back to her natural self in the foreseeable future. She will have to work under certain constraints. Her emplacement in Uttar Pradesh also does not make it easy for her to regain her former position. It is, in fact, a Chakravyooha from which she will need the blessings of all her favourite gods and goddesses to come out unscathed.
First of all, she will feel emotionally choked as she is not expected to comment on the affairs of Madhya Pradesh which is her home State and which had solely occupied her thinking during the past five-odd years of her rustication from the party. Her strength is the masses. With her youthful, smiling face, the garb of a sannyasin and her superb oratory, she is accustomed to drawing large crowds, particularly of the youth and women. They come to have her darshan and touch her feet and hear her discourses — a mixture of politics and mythology.
Her lack of patience or the expertise to organise and manage a political party was her undoing as the founder-president of the Bharatiya Jana Shakti (BJS). Otherwise, she was the only brilliant speaker during the 2008 Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh. She drew huge crowds while traversing the State. She touched the hearts of her listeners by talking to them about the problems they were facing every day: the rampant corruption at every level of the government; steadily deteriorating law and order situation; a feeling of insecurity among the people, particularly women and Dalits; lack of drinking water; non-supply of electricity; and the government’s criminal unconcern at the deaths of children from malnutrition, malaria, dengue and other diseases.
Apart from blasting the State government for its lapses, she devoted a considerable time on debunking Advani’s aspiration to become the Prime Minister. Advani took the name of Ram only to fool the people whereas he was an admirer of Jinnah. He could never become the Prime Minister, she said, because he did not have a mass base.
As her dream of finishing off the BJP in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections miserably failed, she promptly surrendered and declared her unilateral support to Advani as the prime ministerial candidate and dashed off to Delhi to placate him. She was put on probation; she will not utter a word against BJP leaders, particularly Chauhan.
She enters the UP electoral arena with this handicap. Her opponents will harp on her past and she is expected to eat her words uttered in the past five years. More visible (and media savvy) face of her political adversary in UP is that of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh who, as AICC general secretary, has been assigned to lead his party’s election campaign in that State. Much is being made of it in view of the fact that the BJP led by Uma Bharati had routed the Congress in Madhya Pradesh in the 2003 Assembly elections and thus ended Digvijay Singh’s ten-year rule.
Digvijay Singh no challenge
In Uttar Pradesh, Digvijay Singh is not a challenge for her, his bravadoes notwithstanding. The Congress in Uttar Pradesh is virtually struggling to win a respectable number of seats in the Assembly. Uma’s fight, as that of Digvijay Singh also, is against Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). It is a tough fight. Mayawati seems to have captured the imagination of a majority of the people in the sprawling State by restoring a semblance of law and order after the anarchic regime of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Her capacity to take hard decisions even against her own erring party leaders has also gone well with the people. The anticipated diatribes of Uma Bharati and Digvijay Singh against each other may even help Mayawati at places.
Uma will be able to let off her steam against Mayawati and Digvijay Singh without inhibition but she will be stuck when it comes to Kalyan Singh who is also in the field to spoil the BJP’s votes in certain pockets. That Kalyan Singh is also a Lodhi leader like Uma Bharati is only one aspect of the episode. The two believe in the same ideology, subscribe to the same religious or pseudo-religious issues, had been emotionally close to each other in the BJP and out of it and had left the BJP for almost identical reasons with regional variations. Out of the party, Uma had formed her Bharatiya Jana Shakti (BJS) and Kalyan Singh had formed his Jana Kranti Party. Campaigning against Kalyan Singh will be emotionally disturbing for the Sadhvi. She will be constantly conscious of the watch kept on her performance by the Uttar Pradesh BJP leaders, reported to be not so happy with her imposition on them.
Her real (and not visible on the surface) problem is Narendra Singh Tomar. A former rural development and public relations minister of Madhya Pradesh, Tomar is now BJP general secretary in charge of the party’s election campaign in Uttar Pradesh. He is the closest confidant of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and the two have only hatred for Uma Bharati. As Madhya Pradesh BJP president, Tomar was the public face of the party in opposing Uma’s re-admission into the BJP while Chauhan provided the background support. Uma today is in the BJP in spite of Chauhan and Tomar. The latter can be trusted to try his best to see that the Sadhvi does not regain her strength and emerge as a real threat to them.
One of the Vyoohas (strategic formations) of Uma’s Uttar Pradesh Chakravyooha is the Bundelkhand region, stretching out to both the States of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. To make the matters more intricate for her, she herself belongs to Bundelkhand. It is extremely backward region in all respects and was high on her list of priorities when she was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. Most of the money doled out by the Centre in the name of the Bundelkhand package is going into the pockets of politicians in power, the bureaucrats and their favourite contractors and the region has not yet started showing signs of emerging out of the poverty and backwardness which are almost evenly spread across both the States. Now Uma cannot say that neglect and rampant corruption are visible in the Mayawati-ruled Bundelkhand but not in the Chauhan-ruled part of the region. She will have either to keep mum on the issue or speak with the utmost restraint — and both will seriously dent her image as a fiery speaker.