VENKATESH KESARI | 6 JANUARY, 2017

BJP Dilemma: CM or No CM Face for UP, Uma Bharati Emerges As a Possible


NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party is coming under pressure to declare a Chief Minister candidate ahead of the vote in Uttar Pradesh. Union Minister Uma Bharti, infamous for leading the Ramjanambhoomi movement in the state, is a serious contender for the post although Prime Minister Narendra Modi has still to be convinced.

Bharati is known to be a volatile personality, and not inspiring sufficient trust at the top level. More so as she has left the BJP in protest earlier. However, she has a base in UP being from the Lodh (OBC) community, and is known to have backward support in UP. She is the only BJP leader, now that Kalyan Singh is no longer in active politics being the Governor of Rajasthan, with sizeable support in this large community in UP.

This along with her appeal to the hardline core of the RSS/BJP is seen as a major advantage, as this will neutralise claims by rivals like the controversial Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanand, and others like Sakshi Maharaj, who will not be able to oppose her.

Uma Bharati is from Madhya Pradesh, and was its chief minister earlier. She is now an Member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh and has a sizeable presence in the state.

According to the sources,even the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in two minds on whether or not to project a CM candidate against Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati in the state.The Congress CM face Sheila Dikshit has already clarified that she would take back her candidature if her party will have a pre poll alliance with the Akhilesh Yadav led faction of the Samajwadi Party.

The BJP had fought the Delhi Assembly polls held after the Lok Sabha elections with Kiran Bedi as the CM face, and was virtually wiped out.It did not project a CM candidate in the Bihar battle despite the fact that Sushil Kumar Modi was its deputy chief minister in the Nitish Kumar government for a long period. It was defeated in Bihar. But it fought the Assam elections under the leadership of Sarbananda Sonowal and won the polls.

A section of the BJP leadership is of the view that it might not be able to win UP by just projecting PM Modi and party chief Amit Shah.The saffron party might have won Maharashtra,Haryana and Jharkhand polls without projecting a Chief Minister but this strategy could not work in Uttarakhand,Goa and Manipur.

As for the Punjab polls are concerned,the BJP there is a junior ally of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

As a Minister Uma Bharati has remained non-controversial, and followed the line set by the PM. However, the final decision rests with the PM and Amit Shah and a decision at the top level to one, share the honours with another leader in UP; and two, to do so with a leader who is seen as mercurial.

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