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BJP's wild card entry plays with fire again

The BJP is covertly trying to raise the communal pitch by moving Uma Bharti, the political migrant, in the forefront of the party's election campaign. She is the right blend - a backward with a strong Hindutva image. Sunita Aron reports.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2012 00:34 IST
Sunita Aron

The BJP is covertly trying to raise the communal pitch by moving Uma Bharti, the political migrant, in the forefront of the party's election campaign. She is the right blend - a backward with a strong Hindutva image.

Coming handy to the saffron parivar is the 4.5% quota for the minorities. BJP national president Nitin Gadkari had given enough indication of the things to come when he had warned other parties of "social tensions with potential to trigger off communal riots" at a press conference in Lucknow recently.

Even though the temple issue is on the backburner, the presence of sadhvi Uma Bharti, former MP CM, is enough to ignite communal passion. People have not forgotten her smiling face in the photograph with Murli Manohar Joshi when the two were watching the demolition of the Ayodhya mosque in December 1992.

In the name of mobilising the OBCs, the party is wrapping in the other one programme - 'mazhabi arakshan hataao, sanvidhan bachao' (remove religious quota, save the Constitution) - from January 23 in all the assembly constituencies. Maha artis (worship with censers) will be organised in front of images of Bharat Mata.

However, it's rare for a chief minister of a state to contest an assembly election from another state.
Gadkari has politically rehabilitated Uma Bharti, who was taken back on condition she would stay away from Madhya Pradesh politics. She has kept her promise.

Second, Gadkari has filled the vacuum caused by the exit of former CM Kalyan Singh. He needed a backward face to raise the issue that the 4.5% quota for the Muslims would slice off part of the OBC quota.

But there is a question mark on whether Gadkari's gamble will succeed. Her rise has upset the leadership in UP.

In all, there is a growing fear that the communally charged days of the early 1990s will return.

But Jafaryab Jilani, legal adviser to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said: "The BJP will try to ignite communal passions. But I am confident they will fail."