In a dramatic turn of events and after facing strong opposition within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), firebrand maverick and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti has been readmitted to the party.
BJP insiders indicated Bharti was chosen to lead the campaign in Uttar Pradesh because she represents both ‘Hindutva and swadeshi’ and leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh feel the present party leadership doesn’t fit the picture. During the Ayodhya-Ram Janambhoomi movement, she was a prominent figure.
Though BJP president Nitin Gadkari and senior leader L K Advani had been trying for a long while to get her back in the party, there was tremendous opposition from Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and some others in the central leadership. Which is also why she has been told to concentrate on UP and not to get into MP matters.
Expressing happiness, Bharti said she felt like the proverbial bird of a ship, who leaves it only to return. “I have been out of the party for five-six years, I have realised that only the BJP is my anchor and destination. In these six years, I have learnt that if one has to serve the nation and keep ideological commitment, there is no option other than BJP. I want to forget the last five years I was out of the BJP,” she said at a press conference here.
Bharti was expelled from the party in December 2005 on charges of gross indiscipline. After being expelled, she had launched a Bharatiya Janshakti Party, but failed to make a mark.
Without giving her a formal position in the party, Bharti has been asked to concentrate on consolidating the party in Uttar Pradesh and also continue to lead her ongoing Ganga Bachao Andolan. “Uma Bharti’s main focus would be Uttar Pradesh but she can travel anywhere in the country. We don’t just want to win elections in Uttar Pradesh but we want to change society for the better. Uma Bharati can lead an agitation against Mulayam Singh Yadav and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati,” said Gadkari.
As mentioned earlier, the leadership has asked her not to interfere in the affairs of Madhya Pradesh. They have no wish to disrupt the “smooth functioning” of their government there. “It would be difficult to keep Uma Bharti away from Madhya Pradesh but if she chooses to interfere, she will not get support from BJP and RSS,” said a senior BJP leader. Asked to comment, Chouhan only said: “Any party worker is welcome in our party. I will abide by the party decision. I had no differences with anyone.”
Gadkari had earlier persuaded Jaswant Singh, expelled for his favourable remarks on Jinnah, to return to the party. Many believe it is only a matter of time that Govindacharya and Sanjay Joshi, former general secretaries, would be back, too. BJP leaders are also interested in bringing back Rajbir Singh, son of ex-UP chief minister Kalyan Singh.
“Both Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh are of the Lodh community, which is in large numbers in western Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand areas,” added the BJP leader.