Nobody in the Madhya Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party is endorsing Union water resources minister Uma Bharti’s Sunday revelation that she had proposed Gaurishankar Shejwar’s name for the top post in 2005 in place of Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
For obvious reasons, the BJP leaders don’t want to get into a controversy, but their gestures and safe denial to Bharti’s statement suggest otherwise.
Uma Bharti had revolted against the central BJP leadership during the BJP’s legislature party meeting in November 2005, convened to elect Shivraj Singh Chouhan as the leader of the legislature party and thus replace the then chief minister Babulal Gaur in the government.
There has always been a debate in the party if Uma Bharti herself wanted to become the chief minister again. She had relinquished the post in 2004 in the wake of an arrest warrant issued against her by a Hubli court in Karnataka on the Tri-colour issue.
Gaurishankar Shejwar, who was suspended from the party on the charges of anti-party activities is presently the forest minister in Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet.
During a meet the press organised by Central Press Club on Sunday Uma Bharti said she had come to know that some book had been published in which it was written that she wanted to become the chief minister again.
“Nobody knows much of the event that took place (in 2005). I didn’t want to become chief minister again. This is a falsehood. Whoever has said this has told a lie. My only plea was I should be consulted while making somebody the chief minister. I had never said that I be elected as the leader of the legislature party. On my behalf I had proposed Gaurishankar Shejwar’s name,” said Uma Bharti.
However, former chief minister Babulal Gaur, now home minister, told HT, “I don’t remember that Umaji had proposed anybody’s name.”
Shejwar himself said that he didn’t remember whether his name was proposed in the meeting. “Much time has passed. I don’t remember. I have nothing in my memory too. I am extremely happy with my position in the government,” Shejwar said, apparently avoiding to be dragged into any controversy.
Another leader Anoop Mishra, who as the then MLA had taken part in the meeting and sided with Uma Bharti but later parted ways with her, denied that Uma Bharti was not taken into confidence. He said, “Umaji was taken into confidence by the party (for election of the BJP legislature party leader).”
Mishra is a member of parliament from Morena Lok Sabha constituency. Another prominent leader Prahlad Patel who had also sided with Uma Bharti too said he didn’t remember whether Uma Bharti had proposed any name in the meeting. Patel is a member of parliament from Damoh.