| Digvijay Singh
Bhopal, Nov. 8: The Congress has sought to take advantage of the spat between Uma Bharti and Vikram Verma by ordering hoardings and pamphlets highlighting selective parts of her apology letter.
Chief minister Digvijay Singh today issued a statement making light of the apology by the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Madhya Pradesh, saying, like Verma, he was also expecting an apology for remarks made by her.
“I am sure that one day my younger sister Umaji would show similar compassion and tender an apology to her other elder brother. I shall wait for that occasion,” said the Congress leader.
Digvijay highlighted Bharti’s remark implying that Verma had “dimag mein kachra (rubbish in the brain)”. However, Bharti’s supporters said the sanyasin, known for her plain-speaking, was suddenly provoked by a personal remark that they claimed was more distasteful.
In BJP circles, the public spat is seen as a blot on a party that projects itself as a disciplined organisation.
Digvijay and his spin doctors plan to dub Bharti “impulsive, unpredictable” and, therefore, unfit to be chief minister. Congress campaign managers said the BJP’s internal bickering would help him dub the main Opposition party incapable of providing good governance.
Bharti’s troubles do not end here. A section of BJP leaders, including Verma, Sumitra Mahajan, Kailash Joshi, Babulal Gaur and Yashodhara Raje Scindia, have began to close ranks for a joint resistance against Bharti during nominations for the remaining seats. The leaders have also formed a loosely-knit caucus to rope in others such as Sunderlal Patwa, who has so far been supporting Bharti.
Bharti continues to face a stiff challenge from those within and outside the BJP despite taking over the reins of the campaign almost a year ago. The BJP leader has emerged as a front-ranking campaigner, an effective crowd-puller and orator. However, several middle-rung leaders in the party have not accepted her leadership, despite repeated declarations by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, party president M. Venkaiah Naidu, as well as senior leaders Arun Jaitley and Pramod Mahajan.