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Uma MLAs step up Gaur ouster heat

Oct. 18: Uma Bharti dug in her heels today and the BJP appeared to have softened its stand on a leadership change in Madhya Pradesh.

In Bhopal, her camp warned that if the party fails to listen to 100-odd MLAs demanding the ouster of chief minister Babulal Gaur, they would lay siege to the capital and gherao the secretariat and the state BJP office to force a change.

Uma returned from temple town Ujjain to deliver a discourse on the Gita, in which she repeatedly asserted that tolerating injustice and dishonesty amounts to “adharma”.

Armed with the signatures of 106 of the 173 BJP MLAs, two ministers ' Gaurishankar Shejwar and Anoop Mishra (Vajpayee’s nephew) ' and party functionary Dhyanendra Singh reached Delhi and called on L.K. Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Jaswant Singh and Arun Jaitley, the general secretary in charge of the state. They handed over a memorandum listing the charges against Gaur to the leaders.

The message from Uma to the BJP leadership was clear: act now or face unrest.

Till yesterday, the central leaders had ruled out replacing Gaur. Today, a senior functionary said Uma loyalists were advised to wait till the Bihar elections. “For us, Bihar at the moment is more important than Madhya Pradesh,” he said.

But sources close to Uma said she is not buying the Bihar poll argument, pointing out that she has been seeking a change of leadership since March. Asked if a memorandum was received, Jaitley ' who had yesterday denied its existence ' said: “I will not say anything.”

Gaur, who had left for Chitrakoot, had to cut short the trip as he was summoned to Delhi.

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