Bhopal, Sept. 19: As Uma Bharti’s race for chief ministership hit a speed-breaker and her party detractors got a chance to float a “list of alternative aspirants”, the sadhvi said she would prefer to “sacrifice many lives for the cause of Ram and a Ram temple”.
“I was born a Ram bhakt and will die a Ram bhakt. I am prepared to face any thing for that,” she said after the Rae Bareli court ordered framing of charges against her.
Bharti was over 1,000 km from Rai Bareli campaigning among tribals in Betul when the news broke. As she spoke at a public rally, she nervously kept glancing at her mobile when it was nearing 3 pm, and from 3.30 pm, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing.
Within minutes, her BJP detractors in Bhopal had come up with an alternative list of aspirants ranging from Union ministers Vikram Verma and Sumitra Mahajan to BJP general secretary Shivraj Singh Chauhan and state leader of the Opposition Babulal Gaur.
But Bharti stood firm and sought to project herself as a martyr.
“Even if I lose my life and many lives after this for the cause of the Ram temple, I will have no regrets,” she said to lusty cheers.
Declaring she was “every bit” proud to be associated with the Ram temple movement, she said: “My association with Ram temple movement is no crime.”
Bharti said the Rai Bareli order had no bearing on her electoral aspirations in Madhya Pradesh.
Her close aide, Kaptan Singh Solanki, added: “Now she is doubly eligible for the chief minister’s post. Her contribution to the Ram temple movement is a boon for us.”
Senior BJP leaders handling Bharti’s campaign said her “fate” was linked to Murli Manohar Joshi’s resignation.
If Joshi withdrew his papers, Bharti would not face any problem, they said. But if he remained adamant, the BJP would have to do some explaining on why Bharti could be considered for chief minister when Joshi could not carry on as Union human resources development minister.
The Congress reacted cautiously. Chief minister Digvijay Singh would not comment on Bharti’s aspirations, merely saying: “I leave it to her judgement.”
At the BJP headquarters in the Deen Dayal Upadhyay complex, party workers were heard discussing in hushed tones how Joshi’s resignation would impact Bharti.
Officially, state BJP chief Kailash Joshi said there was no question of looking beyond Bharti as the party’s chief minister nominee.
There was no “question of changing the horse mid-way in the race”, both he and other office-bearers maintained.
But in private, those hostile to Bharti wondered how the BJP would make a distinction between Joshi and Bharti.
“If it is morally laudable not to be a minister after charges are framed, how can one jockey for chief minister'” asked a leader loyal to Babulal Gaur.
Several other Bharti baiters, including Verma and Mahajan, could raise the same question. So could Yashodhara Raje Scindia, whose antipathy for Bharti is no secret.
But Yashodhara today declined comment, saying she had been asked by senior BJP leader Kushabhau Thakre to keep mum.
Her supporters, however, said the Rae Bareli court had “set the cat among the pigeons”.