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Uma slams Digvijay for cake slur

Bhopal, April 19: Cakes don’t usually light a fuse, but this one has.

Two days after Uma Bharti kicked off her campaign for the chief minister’s chair by offering a cake to Lord Hanuman at a temple in Chhindwara, the BJP’s star campaigner in Madhya Pradesh today bristled at suggestions that it contained egg.

At a press conference here, Bharti said it was “blasphemous” to spread a canard that a sadhvi like her could offer the deity a cake made of eggs. “The truth is that someone passed on a burfi cake to me,” she added.

Bharti, who accused both the Congress and the media of “conspiring” against her, slammed chief minister Digvijay Singh for “playing politics” with religion. “I am a religious person but I hate mixing my faith with politics,” she said.

“First, Digvijay got someone to say that Vajpayeeji is a beef eater,” Bharti said, referring to posters put up by state Congress workers claiming that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ate beef. “Then he tried to blackmail voters in Madhya Pradesh by promising to open the Dhar Bhojshala if (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi was made Prime Minister. Now he is spreading this canard about me.”

She, however, avoided a direct reply when asked if she had sung “happy birthday to you” and lit candles during her offering on Hanuman Jayanti. “What happened there was between a bhagat (devotee) and Bhagwan (God),” she replied curtly.

Bharti said the chief minister was also threatening to order a probe into whether she had launched her “Sankalp yatra” from a temple. “I did not go inside the temple. I was outside the temple,” she said.

“I want to speak and speak out,” Bharti said, though she was barely able to because of a bad throat. “There is a limit to every thing. The truth is that Chhindwara, which has been with the Congress for decades, is the most backward region that I have ever come across. I invite Sonia Gandhi to visit it and see it for herself. Digvijay’s Rajgarh district, too, is faced with poverty, hunger and starvation.”

The BJP leader refused to comment on ideologue K.N. Govindacharya, who, according to an agency report, had predicted a Congress victory in the coming Assembly polls. “I do not want to say anything,” she kept repeating. State BJP chief Kailash Joshi, however, denied that Govindacharya had made such a remark. Yesterday, Govindacharya, an old associate of Bharti, announced his decision to stay away from active politics.

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