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Dissident campaign against Uma gains momentum
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | July 02, 2004 22:36 IST
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti arrived in New Delhi today on a summons from the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership to discuss the growing dissidence in the state unit.
According to a source in the BJP, Bharti is meeting top leaders, especially former deputy prime minister L K Advani and party president M Venkaiah Naidu, to explain why the dissidence has flared up suddenly.
BJP dissidents from Madhya Pradesh like Prakash Sonkar, a scheduled caste legislator from rural Indore, Himmath Kothari, legislator from Ratlam, and Kusum Singh Mehendele have been camping in New Delhi to protest against Bharti's alleged high-handedness.
The dissidents are protesting against the chief minister's alleged nepotism in "showering plum posts on her relatives and friends and ignoring the aspirations of veteran party MLAs" while expanding her Cabinet.
"I am a fourth-term BJP legislator, but the honourable chief minister apparently does not think I am qualified enough to find a place in her Cabinet," Sonkar told rediff.com "But her brother and close friends are getting plum posts."
Bharti's elder brother Swami Prasad Lodhi lost the assembly election in December 2003, yet Bharti has accommodated him as chairman of the Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation.
Similarly, she 'showered' eight plum posts on her friends, Sonkar alleged.
According to Kothari, a former state minister, Bharti's "high-handedness left us no option but to protest against her style of functioning".
The party source said other dissidents include former chief minister Kailash Joshi, now MP from Bhopal, former Union ministers Vikram Verma and Sumitra Mahajan, Krishna Murari Moghe, MP from Khargone, and Vijay Khandelwal, MP from Betul.
He said that at the BJP's three-day national executive meeting in Mumbai last month, Naidu had advised Bharti to carry all the party members with her, a clear hint that she could not favour only her near and dear ones.
Kothari said, "Ours is a fight for pride and prestige. The chief minister has made a mockery of democratic norms and traditions in her lust for power."
The dissidents are also meeting the party general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Chauhan, MP from Vidisha, to apprise him of their discontent.
The source said even BJP legislator from Shivpuri Yashodhararaje Scindia, sister of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhararaje, is upset with the chief minister, as is Sudha Jain, legislator, and Dhyanendra Singh, former minister. The resentment grew when Bharti inducted eight first-time legislators as Cabinet ministers at the expense of these veterans.
More reports from Madhya Pradesh
Read about: Assembly Election 2003 | Death of Madhavrao Scindia