Uma Bharti pushed into UP cauldron

The firebrand leader, who is an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, not only faces an arduous task of ‘re-organising’ the party by galvanising the workers, she will also have to find ways to unite the party by winning over different groups led by egoistic leaders.

Uma Bharti’s return to the BJP had been in the air for the past several months but there were sharp divisions among the party leaders over the issue. In fact her return was supposed to be announced by the party during its national executive meeting in Lucknow recently but it had to be deferred reportedly owing to serious differences among the state leaders.

Backwards’ votes

While the BJP may have felt that Uma Bharti would be able to bring the ‘backwards votes’ to the party in the next year’s Assembly elections and at the same time galvanise the party workers through her fiery speeches, the backward leaders of the saffron party may find themselves relegated to the background.

Although UP unit chief Surya Pratap Shahi welcomed Uma’s return to the party fold, party’s senior and fiery backward leader Vinay Katiyar felt that her return would not make any difference in the polls. Katiyar’s disappointment was clearly visible when he remarked that there was no dearth of good leaders in the BJP in the state.

BJP had earlier appointed senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member Kalraj Mishra as the president of the election campaign committee and his supporters were sure that he would be projected as the party’s chief ministerial candidate in next year’s polls.

“It is yet to be seen who will call the shots in the distribution of tickets and whose decisions will be final,” said a senior state leader on the decision of the party to hand over the responsibility of running the campaign to Uma Bharti.

Some influence

BJP leaders here said that Uma Bharti’s return could have some influence on the ‘lodh’ (a backward caste to which Uma belongs) voters, who had deserted the party after the exit of former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, who also comes from the same caste.

There are around 25-30 Assembly constituencies in the state, especially in Etah, Bulandshahar, Farrukhabad, Ferozabad and Mainpuri districts, where lodhi voters are in sizeable numbers and could tilt the balance.

Besides Uma Bharti has been associated actively with the Ram temple movement and is known to be a strong advocate of hindutva ideology. “We did not have any strong leader, who was a fervent votary of the hindutva after Kalyan Singh left the party,” quipped a senior leader.

The fact that the BJP today does not have a leader with a mass base in the state will only compound the problems for Uma Bharti. While she may be able to lift the sagging morale of the party workers in the state, where the party slipped to fourth position in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, it is doubtful if she will be able to deliver the goods given serious internal dissensions in the state unit.

“The grass root workers may be happy at her return but she will find it very difficult to bring the warring factions to rally around her in her attempt to revive the party in this politically crucial state,” said another leader.

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