From calling Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan a ‘bachcha chor’, for wresting the government she made with her efforts, to threatening to “(up)root this gang out of Indian politics”, former CM Uma Bharti has come a long way in six years.
She certainly did not have any inkling about this in 2004, but the man who was stumped by her then got the coveted seat anyway a year later. He also proved to be one of the biggest hurdles in the way of her comeback to the BJP.
Once Chouhan replaced Babulal Gaur as chief minister in November 2005 after the stormy meeting of the state BJP legislature party, he made sure that the state unit was led by known detractors of the Sadhvi.
That there was no love lost between them was evident when at a public meeting held to welcome him at neighbouring Raisen district, Chouhan disclosed he had almost become chief minister a year earlier, but for opposition from ‘Behanji’.
Under such circumstances, said party sources, senior BJP leader LK Advani played a major role in convincing Chouhan about her return to the BJP in the past one year or so on the insistence of the RSS.
Besides strong opposition from several senior leaders — Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu — in Delhi, who she had rubbed the wrong way at one time or the other, there was a chorus of protest to her re-entry by a number of state BJP leaders. They include former chief minister Sunderlal Patwa, Narendra Singh Tomar and state party president Prabhat Jha.
The thaw in years of strained relationship between the two sides was first witnessed a few months ago when Chouhan visited her at a private hospital on the outskirts of Bhopal where Bharti was admitted with a severe headache.
Advani too made a number of calls to the hospital to inquire about her health.
Though state BJP media-in-charge Hitesh Bajpai may claim “there was no such rivalry”, Bharti’s playing field being
shifted to Uttar Pradesh proves otherwise.
The BJP in UP may make use of her mass-mobilising skills for now, the sadhvi would surely be eyeing her home turf.