The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Uma turns down MP chief offer

New Delhi, Aug. 23: The last leg of the organisational changes in the BJP, which involved changing heads of the state units, has been deferred after sports and youth affairs minister Uma Bharti turned down the offer to lead the party in Madhya Pradesh.

Sources close to Bharti said she was “advised” by trusted associates that the state unit was “far too faction-ridden” to be set in order before the Assembly elections due next year.

The search for a new president for Madhya Pradesh is on. BJP sources said former chief minister Kailash Joshi was being seriously considered for the post. Although the party would be deviating from the yardstick of “generational change” if the veteran Joshi was appointed, sources said under the circumstances he was their “best bet”, with the other possible nominees like Sunderlal Patwa reporting poor health and Vikram Verma not thought of as “effective”.

Former youth wing president Shivraj Chauhan, a Lok Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh, was also considered but was shot down by certain quarters.

The stage is set for a small Cabinet reshuffle as minister of state for small industries Vasundhara Raje is due to take up the party’s reins in Rajasthan.

The other state-level changes being contemplated by the BJP include replacing Uttaranchal unit chief Puran Chand Sharma with former minister Ramesh Chand Pokhriyal “Nishank” and Punjab president Brij Mohan Rinwa with — again a former minister — Manoranjan Kalia.

The party may also change the Haryana unit president, Rattan Lal Kataria, because of his reported opposition to the alliance with the Indian National Lok Dal.

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