Uma Bharti pulls out of race, in favour of BJP

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Uma Bharti
Uma Bharti

Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: Uma Bharti's Bharatiya Janshakti Party is withdrawing from the contest in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, in favour of the BJP and in the interest of Hindu unity.

Her announcement here on Friday is being seen as the beginning of a rapprochement between her and the Bharatiya Janata Party, with which she parted ways soon after Shivraj Singh Chauhan took over as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister at the end of 2005.

Informally, some partymen said if everything went according to plans, she could return to the BJP a couple of months after the Uttar Pradesh polls.

At a press conference, Ms. Bharti said now that polling in the first two phases, in which 72 of her party candidates contested, was over (polling for the second phase took place on Friday), the Bharatiya Janshakti Party would not declare candidates for the remaining five phases. Earlier, it decided to contest more than 200 out of the 403 seats.

Ms. Bharti said she was withdrawing in response to an appeal by Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal.

Ram temple

Informally, it is learnt, Mr. Singhal has cleared her entry back into the BJP with the top brass of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

However, for the record, neither the BJP was willing to talk about the possibility of her return, nor was she entertaining that idea.

Apparently, Mr. Singhal believes that if BJP leader Kalyan Singh were to become Chief Minister, there could be a forward movement on building a Ram temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya. It was during his earlier tenure as Chief Minister that the Babri Masjid was demolished.

Ms. Bharti told reporters that if the BJP did not get a majority, the party should take the result as a message that it did not have the confidence of Hindus.

Asked about the possibility of her return to the party-fold, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said, "The question does not arise."

In the course of elections if any party or candidate withdrew "in our favour, it is good."

Privately, some BJP leaders point out that Mr. Kalyan Singh was taken back into the party after he won nearly four per cent of the votes polled in the 2002 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

But Ms. Bharti's party did not get even one per cent in Punjab and Uttarakhand, and even in Madhya Pradesh she was not able to demonstrate her electoral clout.

However, it is conceded that if a decision were taken at the level of the RSS, those BJP leaders, who would not have normally approved her re-entry, would prefer not to voice their opposition.

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