The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Uma fires quit threat, BJP cool
- Isolated, sadhvi sings poll tune

New Delhi, Sept. 22: Uma Bharti today said she would 'renounce' politics after the tiranga yatra but her party was in no mood to indulge her following the announcement.

As the yatra criss-crossed Mathura, Uma declared 'politics is increasingly becoming petty' and that 'posts are not as important as campaigns for public awakening'. She added her declaration was not rhetorical as it was made in Krishna's birthplace.

But a BJP leader said it was Uma's 'pressure tactic' to get back the Madhya Pradesh chief ministership or obtain a senior position in the party.

For the record, BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: 'The party will talk to her after her yatra and find out what she wants.'

But by the time Uma touched Ballabhgarh, about 100 km from Mathura, she had amended her statement to say her next yatra ' 'non-political' ' would be launched only after she finished campaigning for the Bihar and Jharkhand elections.

Uma also implied her 'renunciation' was not final but that she was merely seeking her party's permission.

BJP sources ruled out the likelihood of the party asking her successor as chief minister, Babulal Gaur, to step down. 'Our feedback,' they said, 'is that the rank and file, including the MLAs, are happy with him because he has ended Uma's coterie raj and is accessible to one and all.'

Unlike earlier when any such announcement or quit threat from Uma would throw the party brass into a tizzy, the leaders were cool this time. 'Heavens will not fall if she does keep away from politics for a while,' one of them said.

The Maharashtra BJP, peeved with having to organise Uma's yatra when it was preoccupied with the state elections, is believed to have conveyed to the high command that it was 'okay' if she refused to campaign.

The mood in the RSS, too, was not 'pro-Uma', sources said. Madhya Pradesh BJP general secretary (organisation) Kaptan Singh Solanki's dismissal of her declaration as a 'routine thing made several times over' was considered a sign of the Sangh's unwillingness to kowtow to the sadhvi. Solanki is a pracharak.

Even the VHP, in a sense Uma's alma mater, sounded muted. Its senior vice-president, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, called her decision 'hasty' but added she did it because she was tired of the 'politics of ad-hocism and inner squabbles in the BJP'.

The sources claimed the RSS and the BJP were 'unhappy' with Uma for using the yatra to open the lid on internal power pressures and, in a sense, the jousting for the top job.

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