Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti on Wednesday hit out at BJP Chief Rajnath Singh and leader of Opposition LK Advani and accused them of having "an anti-women mindset".
Lashing out at Rajnath for trying to create a wrong impression that the party was pro-women by talking about 33 per cent reservations during the BJP National Executive, she said that it was all an eye wash.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Uma said that how can a party which "had turned out a woman who had come up on merit be pro-women. 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 Vijay Raje Scindia's legacy and she herself who had come up through merit and hardwork. Look what they did to me. They cannot touch the other two but I was considered vulnerable by them."
Bharti said that 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. They want women in the party to come in only through the reserved quota and not merit. Their mindset is wrong and the second generation leaders who are with Advaniji all have a feudal outlook. How can they stand women. Advani himself had manipulated the circumstances to oust her and party idealogue Govindacharya from the BJP. They cannot see a woman rising on her own strength."
Asked whether she would support Pratibha Patil, the UPA presidential candidate in that case, she said there was no question of doing so. "Pratibha is there because she is a woman and not because she is a leader. She will be a rubber stamp if she gets elected in the same manner as Fakhruddin Ahmed was to Indira Gandhi. Had the UPA fielded someone like Meira Kumar, a dalit and a woman of substance or Margaret Alva or even Prabha Rau, they would have been better off. Pratibha is a nobody."
Did she plan to back the NDA candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in that case, she said "I will not oppose him and I have told all MLAs and others close to me not to oppose him. But I really pity Shekhawatji that he has fallen in the trap laid out for him by the BJP leadership. He should have been more careful. But if he manages to appeal accross party lines, he may do well."
Bharti was very critical of Advani for making observations about UP poll debacle. "He had been asked by Atalji to look after the organisational side of the BJP while he (Ataliji) looked at the political side. But Advaniji has surrounded himself with four or five people and his world view and political view is confined to their perspectives which are no where near the ground realities. The question which Advaniji needs to ask himself is why was the party getting alienated from the masses. Also his pro-Jinnah remarks left their mark on the UP polls."