The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Suspended Uma goes all mild
- Sadhvi reaction leaves BJP baiters wondering if she will court Sangh support

New Delhi, Nov. 30: The BJP today suspended Uma Bharti as expected, but its second-rung leaders are nervously watching whether she can gain the support of the RSS.

Uma was punished for “anti-party activities” and served with a notice to explain why she should not be expelled. Her mild reaction to that has led to uneasy speculation whether she might stage a comeback with Sangh help.

Though the Sangh officially says it won’t interfere in the matter, the buzz within the organisation is that it would take a call only after Uma sends her reply, which she has 72 hours to do.

“We’ll see what she says in her reply,” a senior Sangh leader said. “The BJP has not been able to explain the reasons for treating her this way. She has been able to generate sympathy because of that.”

Sources close to Uma say a comeback option may no longer be “viable” but suggest she is likely to try and endear herself to the Sangh and its affiliates by pursuing the Hindutva cause with a vengeance. The Uma camp feels she has been able to generate a lot of sympathy.

The next 72 hours, therefore, will keep Uma’s baiters in the party on tenterhooks. This is particularly so because the Sangh, which had helped Uma when she was suspended the last time, and some in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have not been too critical of her.

After a triumphant Arun Jaitley emerged from the party’s parliamentary board meeting this morning to announce Uma’s suspension, another party leader said the BJP would risk a walkout by pro-Uma MLAs.

“We are now comfortable (with the idea ) that instead of 172, we have only 154 MLAs,” he said.

But Uma’s reaction has stunned everyone. “I will reply to the notice,” she said. “I have always been a loyal worker of the party.” The unexpected mild tone brought back memories of last year when the sadhvi, after having been suspended, managed to work on the Sangh to support her re-induction into the party.

Although Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav clearly indicated the Sangh won’t interfere, anxious second-rung BJP leaders were desperate to read the “real” meaning behind his statement. One of them rang up Madhav to be reassured that the Sangh leader had meant what he had said.

The VHP seemed divided. Its chief Ashok Singhal announced he would support anyone who campaigns for the Ram temple ' a demand Uma has been cleverly airing in the past couple of days ' but VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia is opposed to her.

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