On Saturday night BJP Vice president Uma Bharti wrote a letter to party president Rajnath Singh, directed at the press, apologising for the embarrassment she has caused to the party by her absence from the meeting of its national executive committee in Goa. She also confessed that she has aerophobia and accused the press of preying on the BJP.
On Friday, Ms. Bharti — an MP and a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh — had written to Mr. Singh saying that she would miss the meet due to ill health. Other absentees included MPs L. K. Advani, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha, Feroze Varun Gandhi, Ravishankar Prasad and BS Koshiyari and, former Uttarakhand CM BC Khanduri. Speculation was rife that they were opposed to any larger role being given to Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. Advani's New Delhi residence, where he claimed he was recovering from an upset stomach, was picketed by Modi supporters on Saturday.
Ms. Bharti is currently at her Shyamla Hills bungalow in Bhopal.
In her latest letter, Ms.Bharti said, “I feel that the national media has made the BJP its prey and I am one of the examples (victims) of this (preying). It is a well known fact that I fear aircraft, but I am able to travel with you or Advani ji.” She explained that she missed her flight with Rajnath Singh from Delhi on June 6 as she fell ill due to “excessive heat” in Indore on June 5.
“I wrote about these circumstances in a letter and circulated it to the media, yet they trapped me and made me a victim of this mission to spread misunderstanding,” she wrote, on her Madhya Pradesh government letter head.
The maximum temperature recorded in Indore on the day was 33 degrees Celsius. Ms. Bharti had addressed the Indore Press Club that day. Referring to her not being invited to the recently concluded BJP conclave in Gwalior, she had said she did not know why she was not invited for functions in MP by the BJP, when other state units accord her the courtesy. Her statement came three days after she participated in the launch of an electrification project in her birth place Tikamgarh, with CM Shivraj Chouhan.
She concluded by saying that she supported any decision he would take in Goa and apologised for the embarrassment caused by her absence. Sources hinted that the letter was sent and made public so as not to offend any senior leaders who could further destabilise Ms. Bharti’s dwindling stake in the state BJP before the polls.