| Uma: Mixed reaction
Bhopal, Nov. 21: Uma Bharti is set to return to the BJP two years after she was expelled.
As a peace formula was thrashed out by the RSS and the BJP leadership, her spiritual guru, Sri Visvesha Tirtha Swamiji of the Pejawar Mutt in Udupi, today appealed to all “Hindutva” forces to come together before the Gujarat polls.
Taking a cue, BJP national president Rajnath Singh said: “We have the highest regard for Guruji. The issue (of Uma’s return) will be taken up at the highest forum of the party.”
In the past three days, Uma has been in touch with former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat and other Sangh functionaries.
It was unclear if she would stake claim to the Madhya Pradesh chief minister’s post. This has been a sore point with Uma ever since she stepped down in August 2004 after a court issued a warrant against her. She was not reinstated even after her acquittal.
The fiery leader has been describing chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan as “bachcha chor (child snatcher)”, in a reference to the BJP’s 2003 Assembly poll win under her leadership.
Gloom descended on BJP circles in Madhya Pradesh, where Uma’s return is seen as bad news for Chauhan, who is facing allegations of corruption, and his cabinet colleagues. In the past two years, almost all state ministers have publicly heaped scorn on Uma.
But sources in the central BJP leadership said both sides had little option but to bury the hatchet.
The Gujarat elections are an important factor. Several disgruntled BJP aspirants are in touch with Uma to queer Narendra Modi’s pitch as nominees of her party, the Bharatiya Jan Shakti.
The party does not have a single MLA but about a dozen by-elections have proved that Uma has the potential to attract 12,000-20,000 votes in each Assembly segment.
Uma, too, has reason to return. Her breakaway group has recently seen mass desertions and is also cramped by paucity of funds and resources.
Swami Visvesha has been a formidable supporter of Uma. When she was shown the door in November 2005 for breaching party discipline, he had gone on record saying “injustice” had been done to her.
He had spoken to several BJP leaders, including then party chief L.K. Advani, to whom he also wrote a long letter.