Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is it the end of Uma Bharti's political career?

Even Uma Bharti's opponents would never have imagined that that the Sadhvi could ever lose an election in Madhya Pradesh.

But the unimaginable has happened and Bharti is now left in the lurch with her party, Bharatiya Janshakti not able to get past five seats in the Assembly and she herself losing the election from her hometurf Tikamgarh.

Though one can't write off any politician, especially someone like Uma Bharti. The temperamental politician is as much known for her antics and bizarre acts as much for her oratory.

She had first shot to limelight in the 80s when the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid movement was at its peak. Her fiery speeches that were directed against the 'Descendants of Babar' [Indian Muslims], led to communal polarisation and gave an impetus to LK Advani's Rath Yatra.

People remember Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti in a joyous embrace after the demolition of Babri Masjid. Many claimed that she was not as communal and anti-Muslim as she was believed and many confused Sadhvi Ritambhara's speeches with Bharati's.

However, the colourful Uma Bharti was always a unique politician. Someone who not only brought the most massive mandate ever for BJP in Madhya Pradesh in 2003 but also dared to take on LK Advani by walking out of party's national conclave shouting at the top of her voice, in front of TV cameras.

She was a mass leader and leaders like Arun Jaitley, Pramod Mahajan and Rajnath Singh are said to have feared her. As Chief Minister she was uncomfortable due to the cameras following her every move.

Cameramen and photographers were thrashed for taking photos of her personal moments. On way to meetings she would suddenly stop her cavalcades to mollycoddle a calf or offer roti to a cow. Breaking a law was never an issue for her.

She stopped trains at stations where there were no halts and would board the train engine rather than getting into the compartment. Else, she would dislodge a senior politician from his seat and force him to leave.

Though she claimed that she was a Sadhvi, her colourful dresses and certain other aspects of her lifestyle that were earlier hidden, raised eyebrows. She was blamed to have let her kin run the entire administration.

Govindacharya was the friend, philosopher and guide forever but he couldn't do much. She was unstable and simply uncontrollable. People feared her as she could say anything (humiliating) to anybody publicly.

Her legendary antics caused embarrassment and the leadership used the issue of court case in Hubli and made her vacate the chair. But she was never allowed to return.

Uma Bharti had the sympathy of public but would every now and then get angry and create a scene. The latest act was slapping a senior party worker in full public view during the campaign and then kissing him though he ultimately left the party.

The politician whose 'mud Holi' and offering cake to Lord Hanuman are just a few of the incidents we remember, was now out of the BJP. Her party failed to make any impact despite the anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh against the ruling BJP.

The myth of Lodhi vote bank was also busted. Uma Bharti had earlier said that if she didn't come to power on her, she would take sanyas and go to Badrinath but now she says that she has not lost rather it was the conspiracy of BJP and Congress to keep her out.

One can't write off any politician in this country, especially when we are talking about a leader like Uma Bharti, the self-styled Sadhvi, who knows the art of staying in the news and is still a mass leader despite her defeat.

Uma Bharti's political journey makes an interesting study case. She has been called 'sexy sanyasin' in the past. She has been at the centre of numerous controversies and has been minister in the centre as well as Chief Minister of MP.

Nobody knows what the future holds for Uma Bharati. She may bounce back once again or remain on the fringe of Indian politics just because of her feisty ways. The truth is that even she doesn't know what she wants to do, in personal life and politics.

She rose from a very modest background and her family profited at her expense when she started giving discourses at a very young age. She blames her brother for being selfish. The late Vijayraje Scindia had taken her under her wings and brought the girl from rural background into the mainstream political life.

Born in an area with one of the lowest Muslim concentration in India, she remained suspicious of the community. But it is equally true that unlike many suave BJP leaders, she never held a grudge against them when she became the Chief Minister.

Early in the life she earned money for her family by travelling across India and outside as a child prodigy deliving religious discourses. Bharti's tale is sad in a way as she had an unusual kind of asceticism thrust on her with which she was never comfortable.

Once the hate-spewing, rabble-rousing, all-powerful Uma Bharti was the mascot of militant Hindutva, today she stands alone and blames them for all ills. A mercurial soul, the daughter of Bundelkhand, remains an intriguing figure for everybody.