The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ruler to rogue, in two years

Bhopal, Dec. 5: From the apple of the BJP’s eyes to a thorn in its side, Uma Bharti has come a long way in two years.

December 5, 2003, had been a hectic day for the sadhvi. She had posted the biggest-ever victory in Madhya Pradesh, ending 10 years of Congress rule. A stream of visitors, mostly newly elected BJP MLAs, was anxious to catch the attention of the sadhvi, whose smile meant a berth in the council of ministers.

Two years later, December 5 saw Uma being booted out of the BJP that she claimed to have built with her “sweat and blood”. As the verdict was being pronounced in Delhi, she was in Raisen, 60 km from the state capital, walking with a handful of supporters. Almost all of them are facing disciplinary action and imminent exit for siding with “didi”.

Uma’s expulsion did not even create a stir in Bhopal. Most BJP MLAs did not bother to react as they spent the day calling on newly appointed ministers. The ministers, in turn, were busy lobbying for “creamy” portfolios.

The party’s state organising secretary, Kaptan Singh Solanki, said: “Yeh to hona hi tha (this had to happen).”

Former chief minister Babulal Gaur said: “It should have been done a long time back.”

The axe, however, did not keep Uma down. She hit back at the BJP leadership, demanding the “expulsion” of party president L.K. Advani on the ground of “gross indiscipline”. She said she would file a petition on Tuesday before the BJP disciplinary committee.

Uma said Advani’s “salute” to Jinnah in Karachi was against the BJP and its ideology. “I want to know if discipline is more important or party president.”

Uma today reiterated her stand that she was the BJP. “I do not accept the parliamentary board’s decision and do not consider myself to be out of the BJP because I am the BJP and several lakh party workers are with me,” she said.

Her brave front, however, is being seen by many as a ploy to hide her anxiety. Not only have MLAs snubbed her, her Ram Roti Yatra, too, has failed to draw huge crowds. The path to Ayodhya is long ' over 1,000 km ' so Uma faces a daunting task of keeping the tempo high through the distance.

Uma has not indicated her future plans, but it appears that she will team up with former BJP ideologue K.N. Govindacharya.

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