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Uma show has BJP jittery

The impressive rally organised by Uma Bharati, Khurana and others should serve as an eye-opener, writes Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2006 12:12 IST

The impressive rally organised by former MP CM Uma Bharati, former Delhi CM Madan Lal Khurana and others on Tuesday should serve as an eye-opener for both the BJP, which had marginalised them, as well as the RSS, which is in the process of rethinking its strategy vis-a-vis the saffron party.

The size of the rally was many times more than that of any BJP rally in the Capital, including those when AB Vajpayee and LK Advani’s were at their peak. Most Delhiites can recall that most BJP rallies have been held either at the Ambedkar Stadium, with chairs placed in the front enclosures to mask the lack of numbers, or in Talkatora Indoor Stadium, where capacity is limited. Organising a rally at Ramlila grounds is always a challenge and the BJP has always refrained from holding its public meetings there. By doing what the BJP has dithered at doing, Uma has given the BJP a lot to worry about.

Uma's repeated references to her belief in the ideals of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and late Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, its main idealogue, provided enough indication that her objectve was to woo away the rank and file of the BJP. It is clear that her aim is to emerge as the rallying point of the forces of hindutva and establish herself as the unquestioned mass leader from the Sangh Parivar. She knows none of the second ranking leaders, including BJP chief Rajnath Singh, can match her charisma.

She was very careful in choosing her words on Tuesday and while she did not spare Vajpayee and Advani, she refrained from making derogatory references to the RSS. She perhaps knows that if she plays her cards well, the RSS may extend its support to her and allow her party to become the second political outfit of the Parivar, as desired by the VHP.

Uma's impressive show has sent shivers down the spine of several top BJP leaders. There is already a rethink on the dates of the proposed yatras by Advani and Singh and a lot of Uma's supporters are daring the BJP to put up a show half as good as her's.

There are also indications from Uma's speeches in the last few weeks that she is toying with the idea of claiming “Deepak”, the Bhartiya Jan Sangh symbol, from its ageing leader and former Jana Sangh stalwart Balraj Madhok. Madhok may be too happy to hand over the symbol in case it helps revive the party in a big way. It’ll also be his way of getting back at Vajpayee and Advani, the men he holds responsible for the end of his political innings.

It is also not without significance that the press conference by Khurana on Sunday about his plans to join the Uma rally was held at 3, Jain Mandir Marg, practically next door to the premises from where the Jan Sangh was launched. Politics, it seems, has come full circle. Many more BJP leaders could join Uma in the coming weeks.

First Published: Mar 23, 2006 01:46 IST