Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti hit out at the BJP chief Rajnath Singh and Leader of Opposition LK Advani, accusing them of having "an anti-women mindset".
Bharti, who floated her own party after being expelled from the BJP last year, lashed out at Singh for, what she said, trying to create a wrong impression that his party was pro-women. Singh's talk of 33 per cent reservations for women during the BJP national executive was actually meant to be an eye-wash, she said.
Speaking to the
, Bharti said how can a party which "had turned out a woman who had come up on merit be pro-women."
She was referring to her expulsion.
"There were three top women leaders in the BJP. Sushma Swaraj, who had come up through networking with top leaders after the JP movement, Vasundhara Raje, who inherited Vijaya Raje Scindia's legacy, and myself. I went up through merit and hard work. Look what they did to me. They cannot touch the other two… I was considered vulnerable," Bharti said.
She said the BJP perhaps was raising the issue of reservations for women since the "top leadership wants to surround itself with sycophants or women who cannot voice their own opinion on issues."
Bharti said Advani himself had manipulated circumstances to oust her and party ideologue Govindacharya from the BJP. "They cannot see a woman rising on her own strength," she said.
Asked if she would support Pratibha Patil, the UPA presidential candidate, she said there was no question of doing so.
"Pratibha is there because she is a woman and not because she is a leader...had the UPA fielded someone like Meira Kumar, a Dalit and a woman of substance, or Margaret Alva or even Prabha Rau, it would have been better off. Pratibha is a nobody."
Did she plan to back NDA candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat? "I will not oppose him and I have told all MLAs and others close to me not to oppose him. But I really pity him for falling into the trap laid out for him by the BJP leadership," she said.