Uma Bharati gives jitters to BJP in Madhya PradeshNovember 23rd, 2008 - 1:08 pm ICT by IANS
Bhopal, Nov 23 (IANS) Expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Uma Bharati, known for her firebrand Hindu radicalism, is putting her personal appeal and oratory skills to best use in a vengeful effort to defeat the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh in the Nov 27 assembly elections.Bharati says: “I will retire to Kedarnath in the Himalayas if the BJP wins in Madhya Pradesh”. Her concern is not victory for her Bharatiya Jan Shakti (BJS) party, but defeat for the BJP.
Though her party does not boast of a strong organisation, her widespread personal appeal is giving jitters to the ruling party. More so after her Sep 24 show of strength in state capital Bhopal, which stunned the BJP. The panic only increased with the Hindu ascetic criss-crossing the state, drawing huge crowds.
Bharati set off her election campaign with a bang, her crowd-pulling and oratory skills at her best. There were religious preachers, peasants and poor labourers, besides a large number of women at her ‘Suraaj Sankalp Rally’ (rally for better governance).
The rally’s impact threw political circles into intense speculation about the damage she could cause to the BJP in the polls. This is the first election in which Bharati has pulled out the sword against her mother party after being expelled in 2004.
Her party has fielded 215 candidates in the poll to the 230-seat assembly.
If she has been persistently attacking her once-revered BJP and its prime minister hopeful L.K. Advani, she puts the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in the dock for its “non-performance.”
At all her public interactions, she says the BJP and the Congress are aiding and abetting terrorism. She says Madhya Pradesh has become a safe haven for activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and that the BJP has done little to check them.
Her charge-sheet against the BJP alleges rampant corruption and adds it is similar to that of the Congress. She speaks of hunger, malnutrition, collapse of the health machinery, scarcity of drinking water and electricity, bad roads and “the worst ever” law and order situation.
Still, the firebrand leader steers clear of predicting victory for her party. Her only concern is to defeat the BJP.
The cause of worry for the BJP is that in an intensely fought election where there is no palpable wave for or against anyone, an adverse swing of even one to 2.5 per cent could impact the prospects of the party’s candidates in almost half of the constituencies.
For instance, as many as 87 seats were decided by a swing below 1.5 percent in the 1998 elections when there was no wave. The victory margin was below 5,000 votes in over 140 constituencies, below 3,000 in 87 and less than 1,000 in 28. In 1998 the state assembly had 320 seats since Chhattisgarh had not been carved out of it then.
The 2003 elections were different for there was a palpable wave against the Congress’ Digvijay Singh government and Bharati was in the BJP, which bagged 172 seats.
Against this backdrop, the BJS is all set to be a spoiler for the BJP. Then, there are at least 50 constituencies which have a large number of voters from the Lodhi caste, to which Bharati belongs. Another problem for the BJP is that those it denied nomination are contesting on the BJS ticket in more than a dozen constituencies.
Congress sources, meanwhile, said the party is in touch with Bharati to chalk out a strategy to checkmate the BJP in some 50-odd constituencies where the latter is considered to be on a weak wicket.