The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani links Uma absence to 'leave'

Ujjain, Oct. 31: L.K. Advani has sought to clear the air on Uma Bharti's absence as a BJP office-bearer, claiming that the sadhvi had herself opted out citing her 'ongoing leave'.

The BJP president was in the temple town of Madhya Pradesh in connection with the two-day national convention of the Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha, the premier body of the Sindhi community.

Advani said: 'She (Uma) had cut short her sabbatical on my insistence. But before the BJP executive was announced, she told me that she did not want to be an office-bearer because she is currently on leave.'

Sources close to Uma said, after her 45-day Himalayan sabbatical ends in the later half of November, the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister will head for the US.

Advani said the matter of Uma's induction would be sorted out when Uma gets back to 'work'. The BJP chief said he greatly values Uma's contribution in restoring the BJP's 'past glory'.

In the state capital Bhopal, speculation was rife in BJP circles that Uma had opted out after she failed to get charge of Madhya Pradesh. Party leaders sympathetic to her said Uma wanted to return as chief minister, failing which she was prepared to become a general secretary, provided she was given charge of the state. 'It seems that both her demands were rejected by the new chief,' said a state minister still loyal to Uma.

He said much would depend on chief minister Babulal Gaur's performance in the next three months or so. The deteriorating law and order situation in the state in the wake of the Bhanwarpura massacre, serial rape of minors in Bhopal, the BJP's defeat in the Balaghat Assembly byelection and a general sense of dissatisfaction among party workers are some of the reasons that may hasten Gaur's exit, the minister said.

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