It was a rebellion several in the BJP would hardly be able to erase from their mind during their lifetime, given its scale and unexpected timing.
The stage was all set for coronation of a man from a non-descript village Jait in MP’s Sehore district. The BJP’s legislature party meet had been convened in the state BJP office on November 28, 2005.
The agenda was already known to all as the BJP’s parliamentary board, the body which takes all supreme decisions of the party, at its Delhi meet had approved Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s name to replace Babulal Gaur as the leader of BJP legislature party.
The party observers Arun Jaitley, Pramod Mahajan and Rajnath Singh, had also reached Bhopal for the purpose.
According to party sources, Rajnath Singh’s presence in the scene was much significant, especially his black cat commandos as the party leadership had already sensed a trouble in the meeting by former chief minister Uma Bharti and the MLAs supporting her.
Uma Bharti wanted a vote to finalise the name of the new leader, but the party leadership was adamant on getting its decision approved by the MLAs.
All hell broke loose when Chouhan’s name was proposed by the then chief minister Babulal Gaur as the new leader of the legislature party.
Bharti’s supporters went on the rampage at the state BJP office, breaking flower pots, window panes etc. Police had to resort to lathi charge to control the agitators.
The current Union cabinet minister for water resources and river development, had then stormed out of the meeting with more than 15 MLAs and launched a ‘Ram Roti Yatra’ to Ayodhya.
Later, Bharti was expelled from the party, following which she floated a new party, Bharatiya Janshakti Party. The party won five seats in 2008 assembly elections.
In the last 10 years, however, all the party leaders, who had left the BJP to join Bharti and her party, including Prahlad Patel, Raghunandan Sharma, Shailendra Pradhan and others, have abandoned her to rejoin the BJP. Bharti herself rejoined the BJP in June 2011 and Bharatiya Janshakti Party merged with the BJP.
A Union minister now, Bharti, skipped the state BJP programme to felicitate chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on completion of his 10 years in office on Sunday.
“Invites were sent to all the party leaders. It might be that she (Uma Bharti) was preoccupied and hence couldn’t come down to Bhopal,” state BJP media in-charge Hitesh Bajpai said.
Recalling the rebellion of 2005, Rajya Sabha MP Raghunandan Sharma, who was the Bharatiya Janshakti Party’s president, said, “The protest then was not against Chouhan, but against the procedure adopted to endorse his appointment. The fact is Chouhan has justified the party’s decision with his hard work, commitment and positive attitude.”