The BJP on Thursday appeared divided over taking back Uma Bharti with a section feeling she is unpredictable and will prove to be a liability while some others held that she will be useful for strengthening the party, particularly in UP.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, held separate meetings with senior leaders L.K. Advani, Ananth Kumar, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and party president Nitin Gadkari opposing her return to BJP.
Party sources said Gadkari, who is reportedly keen on return of Bharti, wanted senior leaders M. Venkaiah Naidu and Swaraj to convince Chouhan but when they appeared reluctant, he approached Jaitley but with little effect.
BJP’s quartet — Kumar, Swaraj, Jaitley and Naidu — are reportedly not keen on having Uma back in the party as they feel she is unpredictable and may even be a liability.
While sources close to Advani maintain that Chouhan had paid a courtesy call on him, the issue of Uma Bharti is said to have figured prominently in the meeting. Gadkari is understood to have tried to convince Chouhan. However, the latter remained unconvinced.
Chouhan even threatened to step down if Uma came back to BJP, a source said.
At the first meet of the newly elected office-bearers of the BJP on Thursday, the coming April 21 rally here against inflation and the Maoist menace came under sharp focus. Party president Nitin Gadkari also provided a roadmap for the future growth of the party.
However, presidents and prabharis of some crucial states remain to be announced.
A resolution passed against Maoists asked for tough action, pledging the party’s full support to the government.
Office bearers from all states were asked about preparations for the rally to Parliament against inflation on April 21, and were given specific duties for the rally. “We will march to Parliament from Ramlila Maidan after a public meeting,” said general secretary Ananth Kumar. “We will court arrest.” Though L.K. Advani was present at the meet, he chose not to speak.