Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Days after senior BJP leader Uma Bhartis viral statement 'you are free from any political bond made while addressing a gathering of the Lodhi community, heated up political discourse in the state, the former Chief Minister on Thursday stood firm on her statement saying, "there is no need to refute it because I have said the same."
On Thursday, Bharti took to her official Twitter handle to clarify a rival video of her statement at a social event in Bhopal. She made as many as 10 tweets and claimed she has raised this issue many times before. "But it is necessary to say some sentences before my speech and why did I say this? I said before 2018 Assembly elections, some calls were received in my office from Lodhi Samaj requesting to cancel Didi's meeting, because we are angry with the BJP candidate here. In response to that, I said this on that day."
Bharti, who has been sidelined by the BJP leadership for quite some time, said she had raised this issue when the BJP formed the government in March 2020 after Jyotiraditya Scindia along with over 20 MLAs joined the BJP and the Kamal Nath-led Congress government was sent packing within 15 months despite having a majority of MLAs.
Bharti's tweet justified that she is fighting to find a place for the Lodhi community, an OBC caste group that wields considerable political influence specially in Bundelkhand regions of both Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Hindutva proponent Bharti also belongs to the Lodhi community in the Gwalior-Chambal division. "The balance of caste and region is disturbed in this (Shivraj) cabinet. I have said these many times before," another Bharti tweet.
Bharti mentioned that she never left the BJP, she was fired from it. "Modi is my leader, BJP is my party. I never left BJP. I was fired. Then, in order to continue on the path of my duty, I formed my own party in the stream of nationalist thoughts." She claimed the merger of her political party Bhartiya Jan Shakti with the BJP was also supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At a social event of the Lodhi community in Bhopal on Sunday, Bharti was heard saying, "I will come on the stage of my party, I will ask for the votes of the people, I never say that you are Lodhi, you vote for BJP. I tell everyone to vote for BJP as I am a loyal soldier of my party."
She had also mentioned that her photograph and that of Kalyan Singh (late CM of Uttar Pradesh and OBC leader) were only shown during elections, but community members should not vote just by looking at her photos or hearing her campaign speech. Lodhi are among the most powerful OBC voters in Madhya Pradesh who have been known as traditional BJP voters.
However, a big section of the community has not been too happy in the recent past, especially over the issue of caste reservation. Despite having 47 per cent voters in the state, according to a report of the OBC welfare commission, the community continues to have only 14 per cent political, job and academic reservation. A network of OBC organizations have been gearing up to fight Assembly elections in 2023, sources told IANS.
A few months ago, the state BJP expelled Bharti's kin Pritam Lodhi - a prominent leader from Shivpuri district - from the party.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Bharti also said that the issue is between her and the BJP, and the Congress should stay away from it.
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