The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani faces Uma revolt

New Delhi, Oct. 30: Lal Krishna Advani's fifth term as BJP chief has begun on a sour note.

Firebrand sadhvi Uma Bharti today refused to be part of his new team in protest against Pramod Mahajan's continuation as general secretary. She also demanded more say in the running of the Madhya Pradesh government.

The BJP can also expect trouble from senior leader M.. Khurana, who resigned as Rajasthan governor. Khurana has been included in the party's national executive along with a host of veterans and the youngest of the lot, Varun Gandhi.

Sources said till last night the party had no inkling that Uma would revolt. To accommodate her and some others, the BJP had amended its constitution to increase the number of vice-presidents from seven to nine, general secretaries from five to seven and secretaries from seven to nine.

After Uma's stand, the party today announced the name of eight vice-presidents and six general secretaries. One post each of vice-president and general secretary has been left vacant keeping her and Khurana in mind.

Sources close to Uma said she objected to Mahajan's continuation as general secretary. 'What is it about Pramod that the party can't do without him' He flopped in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra,' she is learnt to have told some party leaders. The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister is also miffed with Mahajan for having opposed her 'Tiranga (Tricolour) yatra'.

Uma, who wanted the chief minister's job back, is also demanding that she be appointed chairperson of the Madhya Pradesh coordination committee which Arun Jaitley had set up.

The panel comprises the incumbent chief minister and the party's state chief. By being its chairperson, Uma could control the state government.

Jaitley, however, said Uma's refusal had 'nothing to do' with Mahajan. 'The suggestion is very unfair to Pramod,' the general secretary said.

Unconfirmed reports said Uma, who had rushed to Delhi to meet Advani soon after he took over, also wanted to be a member of the party's central election committee or central parliamentary board.

But the party maintained that Uma had excused herself saying she wanted to continue with her 'vacation'. Her name was dropped late last night, a party leader said.

Notable inclusions in the national executive committee are Maneka Gandhi, former Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah, actors Hema Malini, Vijaya Shanti and Smriti Irani, former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and Arif Mohammad Khan.

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