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BJP accepts Uma Bharti's resignation

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | August 23, 2004 11:39 IST
Last Updated: August 23, 2004 12:36 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party Parliamentary Board on Monday accepted the resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti.

The parliamentary board asked her to hand over the resignation to Governor Balram Jakhar.

Announcing the Board's decision, party President M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters that Bharti would be handing over the resignation 'any moment' and the state BJP legislature party would meet at 2 pm to elect a new leader.

He said the central leadership had deputed party General Secretary Arun Jaitley to be present and guide the deliberations for a smooth election of Bharti's successor.

Naidu said, "It was felt that the ruling party at the Centre and the state of Karnataka were bent upon creating an unparalleled situation for arresting a chief minister for political considerations."

"It has been decided to accept Bharti's desire to tender resignation and it has been communicated to her," he said.

State unit President Kailash Joshi and party General Secretary Shivraj Singh Chauhan have also been directed to be present at the meeting. Naidu said, "I am confident that the election will be smooth."

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Lal Kishenchand Advani, besides senior party leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Sanjay Joshi, Kailash Joshi and Chauhan were present at the meeting.

A Hubli court had issued a non-bailable warrant against the Madhya Pradesh chief minister for hoisting the national flag, along with her supporters, at the disputed Idgah Maidan in the town on August 15, 1994. The incident led to rioting in the sensitive town.

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A case was registered against Bharti under sections 14, 307 and 357 of the Indian Penal Code. When Bharti failed to respond to the NBW against her, judicial magistrate Vipula Pujari renewed it on March 30, 2001.

Fresh non-bailable warrant was issued against Bharti on August 3 this year.

The Karnataka Government had in 2002 decided to drop the case against Bharti and 21 others, but the newly elected Dharam Singh government reviewed the earlier decision and decided to reopen the case.

The party is now confronted with the tast of choosing Bharti's successor.

The parliamentary board is also faced with allegations that Bharti's tenure was marked by nepotism and autocratic functioning. Despite an overwhelming mandate for the party in the assembly election of 2003, there is a fair bit of dissidence in the party. 

Despite complaints, Bharati had so far survived because of her proximity to party veteran and former deputy prime minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, sources told

"The Congress has given us an emotional issue on a platter. We will ensure that  this opportunity does not go waste," BJP National General Secretary Shivraj Singh Chauhan told Chauhan is considered to be the frontrunner for the chief minister's post.

Throwing his hat in the ring, Chauhan said he was willing to accept any responsibility given to him by the party.

State Home Minister Babulal Gaur is considered the dark horse. He is the the seniormost after Bharti in her state government.

Gaur was in Delhi last week and he indicated that the central high command was fully seized of the developments in the state.

"It (the high command) knows what to do so there should be no misgivings about our ability to rule Madhya Pradesh," he said.

Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Kailash Joshi and RSS organising secretary and BJP state general secretary Kaptan Singh are considered as contenders with an 'outside chance'.

With inputs from Press Trust of India

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