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Uma Bharti: BJP's didi out in the wilderness
K G Suresh New Delhi | December 05, 2005 19:28 IST
Exactly 13 years after her alleged 'ek dhakka aur do' (give another push) call to Kar Sewaks to pull down the disputed structure at Ayodhya, the Sangh Parivar's isolated firebrand leader Uma Bharti was on Monday pushed out of the Bharatiya Janata Party, drawing curtains on her tumultous political career spanning 25 years.
One of the handful of mass leaders in the cadre-based saffron party, the 46-year old sanyasin, who became popular among her followers as didi, was expelled after she made a scatching attack on the BJP top brass in her response to a show cause notice served by the party's central Parliamentary board.
She was earlier suspended for her 'conduct and statements' both inside and outside the Madhya Pradesh BJP legislature party meeting, from which she had walked out along with her supporters, protesting the 'imposition' of Shivraj Singh Chouhan as the state chief minister by the Board.
Born at Dunda village in Tikamgarh district on May 3, 1959, Bharti started giving religious discourses at the age of five, having attained mastery over the teachings of the Gita and the Ramayana.
With six siblings, the prodigal daughter of a peasant family belonging to the backward Lodh community, Bharti travelled across the country and to 75 countries across the world to 'broaden her horizon' from the age of 16.
Uma has told people close to her that she has two identities. One belongs to a Sadhu who saved her life (and died the very same day) when she was three. He is the Sanyasi within her, who made her give religious discourses.
Having decided early not to marry and remain wedded to Hindutva, Bharti was brought into politics by late Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia who was impressed by her oratorial skills. She also became closely associated with RSS, VHP and other saffron organisations.
Bharti first contested Lok Sabha elections from Khajuraho at the age of 25, but lost in the post-Indira Gandhi assassination sympathy wave in 1984. She soon became one of the beacon lights of the Ram Janambhoomi movement and in 1988 was made Vice-President of the Madhya Pradesh unit of BJP.
Riding the Ram wave, she won the Lok Sabha election from Khajuraho in 1989. She went on to retain the seat four times consecutively in 1991, 1996 and 1998. She contested and won from Bhopal in 1999.
An accused in the Babri demolition case along, with BJP president L K Advani and senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi, she had reportedly egged Kar Sewaks on December 6, 1992 saying, 'ek dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod do' (give another push and demolish Babri mosque). However, she denies this.
Appointed President of BJP youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, she got into trouble with its general secretary and Delhi leader Vijay Goel. She also came to be associated with then party ideologue K N Govindacharya.
When the National Democratic Alliance came to power, she was made Minister of State for Human Resource Development under Murli Manohar Joshi.
She returned to Madhya Pradesh state politics to take up the issue of the beating up of BJP municipal councillors there. When brought back to the Vajpayee ministry, she subsequently handled the portfolios of tourism, youth affairs and sports and coal and mines.
Recognising her oratorial and organisational skills, BJP had projected her as its chief ministerial candidate in Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections in 2003.
Leading the party to a thumping victory, Bharti, who was elected to the Assembly from Bara Malehra, became the state's first woman chief minister and the first from the Bundelkhand region.
Following summons from a Belgaum court in July 2004 in the flag hoisting case, Bharti stepped down after nominating her loyalist Babulal Gaur as her successor. However, her trouble with the party central leadership began soon after, when she resented its perceived sidelining her Tiranga Yatra.
She got into a war of words with the party's second generation leaders, particularly Pramod Mahajan and Arun Jaitley. She also developed differences with Gaur.
Bharti's downslide began after she stormed out of the first office bearers meeting called by Advani on November 10 last year after he took over as BJP president from M Venkaiah Naidu. She dared Advani to take action against her in full glare of television cameras and was immediately suspended.
Her suspension was withdrawn over a month later after she apologised.
Always treated as a 'child' in the party, Bharti reportedly still loves soft toys and dogs. However, with her penchant for shooting off letters and her mouth, she won enemies and antagonised people.
She not only targeted the party top brass and almost the entire second generation, but also the Sangh Parivar, which had high hopes from her.
Isolated and cornered in the only party and ideological fraternity she has been associated with all through her life, it remains to be seen whether she becomes another Balraj Madhok, Shankersinh Vaghela, Kalyan Singh or her mentor Govindacharya.