The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Holy halts & house hunt

Bhopal, Dec. 5: Uma Bharti is continuing from where Digvijay Singh left off. The chief minister-designate went temple-hopping today, seeking blessings for her new role at the Sharda temple in Maihar, Satna district, before moving on to hometown Tikamgarh, praying at several temples along the way.

Digvijay handed in his resignation to governor Ram Prakash Gupta today and had planned to call on “Uma shree”, only to learn she was away “thanksgiving”. For most part of the day, the chief ministerial bungalow bore a deserted look.

In the absence of any work or visitors, Digvijay flicked through TV channels to watch Zaheer Khan rip through the Australian middle order on the second day of the India-Australia Test match. In between, the outgoing chief minister kept visiting his family quarters to help his four daughters pack their personal effects.

In the afternoon, Digvijay went hunting for a house to move into. The first house he saw belonged to Kamal Nath, just across the chief minister’s residence where he has lived for the last 10 years.

But the Congress leader rejected 3, Shyamla Hills, a palatial bungalow and no less grand than the chief ministerial bungalow. Some bureaucrats ascribed this to its “inauspicious status” — the bungalow was the residence of deputy chief minister Pyarelal Kanwar who died in office.

The house remained vacant for years till Kamal Nath moved in. However, the Congress general secretary and Chindwara MP seldom stayed there, using it more as an office or a guesthouse.

Bharti’s aides sought to make a distinction between her temple-visits and those of Digvijay. They said Bharti was entitled as a sadhvi to visit places of worship where she has been a frequent caller. They alleged that the outgoing chief minister had sought to make political capital of these “sacred but personal engagements”.

Sharda temple has been an important destination for the BJP leader, who began her chief ministerial campaign from Maihar a year ago, vowing before the deity to end “Digvijay raj”.

Bharti also visited Maihar before filing her nomination papers and held long parleys with Devi Prasad, the chief priest of the temple.

She then visited Hanuman temple at Bada Akhada where she prayed before Hanuman, Ram and Janaki.

The chief minister-designate also visited a Shiva temple and was accorded a rousing reception in Tikamgarh.

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