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From 'Ram' to 'Raj', Uma travelled a long road

From 'Ram' to 'Raj', fiery Sanyasin Uma Bharti has travelled a long journey through spiritualism to power politics often courting controversies.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2003 17:28 IST

From 'Ram' to 'Raj', fiery Sanyasin Uma Bharti has travelled a long journey through spiritualism to power politics often courting controversies and is now all set to take over as the first woman chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.

Born in a peasant family at Dunda village of Tikamgarh district, the 44-year-old firebrand BJP leader who steered her party to a landslide victory in the Assembly elections was initiated into politics at a tender age when she came in contact with late Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia and leaders of the RSS and the VHP.

Bharti had developed strong inclination towards spiritual pursuits in her childhood and achieved fluency in religious epics including the Gita and the Ramayana which later pitchforked her into the forefront of the Ayodhya movement.

Her presence in Ayodhya on the day of demolition of Babri Masjid and her controversial reported remarks allegedly egging karsewaks "ek dhaka aur do" (give one more push) landed her into problems. She had since denied the remarks.

She was also at the centre of a controversy when she had repeatedly told an English news magazine that she was in love with BJP ideologue KN Govindacharya and had intended to marry him.

During the run up to the elections she was in the thick of yet another controversy when she was reportedly snapped offering a cake at a Hanuman Temple as offering.

An avid reader of books on religion, philosophy as also science, the former union minister embarked upon a nation-wide tour at the age of 16 which was followed by her visits to 55 countries in an effort to broaden her intellectual horizon.

Known for her aggressive style and frank opinion, the saffron-clad leader entered active politics in 1980s following close interaction with prominent leaders belonging to the RSS and the VHP.

Though her maiden attempt at Lok Sabha elections in 1984 turned out to be a failure in view of the sympathy wave for the Congress that swept the nation in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination, she made it five times later once the Hindi heartland got intertwined with Ayodhya politics. She became vice-president of the Madhya Pradesh unit of BJP in 1988.

Her entry into the corridors of Parliament followed her maiden victory in 1989 Parliamentary elections from Khajuraho when passion was high on Ayodhya issue.

Bharti contested and won the Khajuraho seat in the backward Chhatarpur district in successive Lok Sabha elections in 1991, 1996 and 1998 before switching over to Bhopal constituency from where she was elected in 1999.

The fiery Sanyasin held the portfolio of Human Resource Development, Sports and Coal in Vajpayee Government before she was chosen as BJP president in Madhya Pradesh. Later she was projected as the party's chief ministerial candidate.

Dubbed by many as temperamental, she was out of the NDA government and virtually made a dramatic return recently, this time as a cabinet minister.

Having hovered around in the national politics for over a decade, she fought her maiden assembly election this time from Bada Malehra constituency in Chhatarpur district, held by her brother Swami Prasad Lodhi in the outgoing house.

Known for her oratory, she is also a prolific writer as her creative prowess is showcased in her books like "Swami Vivekananda", "Manav ek bhakti ka nata" and "Peace of mind".

Bharti has said her priority would be to address the problems of power crisis, bad roads and water shortage as also tackling the issue of unemployment.

The Sanyasin sees 'Hindutva' and development as complementary to each other saying the concept of Hindutva was irrevocably linked to the idea of 'Ram Rajya'.

"When you talk of development, the issue of Hindutva automatically comes to the fore as it is linked to Ram Rajya which speaks of good governance without any discrimination," she had said once.

First Published: Dec 07, 2003 16:56 IST