Ahead of the upcoming assembly bypolls in Madhya Pradesh, speculation over the return of former Chief Minister Uma Bharti to the state's politics has begun. After a long time, her activities in the state have increased once again with her involvement in the BJP's electoral plans.
Bypolls will be held across 28 assembly constituencies in the state and the BJP is trying to register a win on as many seats as possible. It is now taking steps to take advantage of Uma Bharti's political stature in the state.
The BJP under the leadership of Uma Bharti won the assembly elections in 2003 and she also became the Chief Minister but had to resign from the post due to a controversy.
Following this, Uma Bharti formed a separate party and maintained a distance from the state's politics. Bharti then returned to the BJP but her influence in the state's politics steadily diminished despite winning the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh on a BJP ticket.
Efforts were made by the BJP to establish Bharti as a leader from Uttar Pradesh but she herself wanted to remain active in the politics of Madhya Pradesh though she did not get this opportunity.
Now new equations are being created in the state's politics and these have increased the closeness between Uma Bharti and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Signs of this are visible ahead of the upcoming bypolls. There have been few occasions in the past decade when Chouhan and Uma Bharti have been seen sharing the dais for campaigning together but now both of them have come closer, the proof of which could be seen in the rallies at Mungaoli and Mehgaon where both leaders praised each other.
Chouhan while praising Uma Bharti said with a self-reliant India, we are firm in our resolve to make an 'Atmanirbhar' Madhya Pradesh. The trajectory of a self-reliant Madhya Pradesh will be prepared by Uma Bharti, Chouhan added.
Uma Bharti also lauded Chouhan, saying to make the state self-reliant it needs a leadership full of self-confidence. A capable hand is required to bring the benefits of the Central government schemes to the last person in society. All these qualities are present in Shivraj Singh Chouhan and it is in his nature to leave no stone unturned in the quest for development. To make the state self-reliant and a model state, Bharti urged the people to bless Shivraj in the coming bypolls.
Sources in the BJP say some national leaders were targeting Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Uma Bharti, hence both the leaders need each other's support and cooperation. The new leadership emerging within the party has raised concerns, that's why the closeness between Chouhan and Uma Bharti. Till now Chouhan was preventing Uma Bharti from being active in the state. BJP state unit President B.D. Sharma is also known to be close to Bharti.
Political analyst Shivam Raj Pateria says there are only two old political faces in the BJP who enjoy mass appeal in every part of the state and they are Chouhan and Uma Bharti. Whether one likes or dislikes them, they cannot be ignored. Among the new political faces emerging within the party are Jyotiraditya Scindia, Narottam Mishra, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Vishnu Dutt Sharma but all of them are well recognized only as regional leaders.
Backward class voters could play a major role in the upcoming bypolls. As Uma Bharti is a political force to reckon with among the backward classes, the party wants to take advantage of this which is why she is being asked to remain active in the state.
Uma Bharti may even contest the bypolls from Bada Malhera assembly constituency as Pradyuman Singh Lodhi, a close aide of Uma Bharti, resigned from the membership of the state assembly and joined the BJP.