Along the Ganga, Uma Bharti Finds Her Three Ps: Party, Personal Change and 'Prachand Rajneeti'
The newly appointed BJP vice president plans to take a Ganga Yatra to assess the plight of the people living along the river and focus on further investment in its rejuvenation.
Uma Bharati interacts with guests at Holi Milan function she hosted at her Delhi residence (Eram Agha)
New Delhi: 'Uma Shri Bharti: Jeevan Parichay' a four-page booklet on the cabinet minister’s journey was handed over to every guest invited for the Holi Milan organized at 9 Tyagraj Marg, her residence. She wanted her guests to be aware of her past, understand the present and anticipate her future with facts in hand.
“I have always maintained I am not retiring from political life. After chunav I am going to be on Ganga Yatra for over a year and will be back to do prachand rajneeti (intense politics) for another 15 years,” she told the guests gathered in the lawn. She welcomed them with chandan and kesar – “former stands for courage, and the latter for silence. It is the combination of the two that makes one complete,” explained Bharti.
Bharati is the new national vice president of the BJP. The Holi Milan came after the announcement. “The decision was taken keeping my wishes in mind. They took care of my sentiments. Chunav nahi ladna hai lekin ladwana hai (I won’t be contesting for 2019 general elections but I will be helping the party during elections),” she said.
Ganga Yatra and the Return to Political Life
The mood of the nation seems to be taking its course on the waters of Ganga this year. With Priyanka Gandhi’s recent Ganga Yatra – a campaign tour across UP for the upcoming elections – the electorate along the river and not a clean river has taken centre stage.
Uma Bharti has also followed suit. While political campaigns during her office as BJP vice-president will take her time, towards the end of the year, in October, Bharti will also go for a Ganga Yatra.
“There is a possibility that after I go there Ganga might bless people in state and central government with some sad-buddhi (intelligence)," she said.
For her Ganga is not just about astha (belief) and faith, it is the matter of “arthik stithi (economic situation)” – the plight of those who live alongside it.
“There are people who can derive employment opportunities from Ganga. We have started taking it for granted, just the way we do with our mother,” she said.
Dressed in saffron Bharti was in a light mood. She also revealed her eureka moment; the origin of her very own Ganga endeavour – one where she realised the river as not only a source of purity but also a subject of political will.
“In Kanpur, the Prime Minister spoke about nirmal and aviral Ganga. When I heard him using these the two words I said Eureka. The situation for Ganga is not just about nirmal water but also continuous support and investment, which we managed," she said.
In her opinion, "Lot of work has been done and now there is a team to take it forward. Work from my end is over, now there has to be implementation,” she said.
In order to make Ganga rejuvenation a success, she said the emphasis has to shift from creating awareness to implementation at every level.
Hiatus and not Retirement from Political Life
The announcement of Bharti’s Ganga Yatra, her office in party leadership and her not contesting elections this year had unquestionably spread a sense of uncertainty regarding her political career. She kept reiterating her position to ensure no one has doubts about her political life.
“I am leaving this election but I will fight the election of 2024. I have told my party that. It is only this time I am leaving. This decision should not be taken as if “I am shirking,” she said.
As a politician, Bharati is aware of her political appeal and unapologetically bragged about it. She said that the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh with Yogi Adityanath as the CM also includes her contributions in the win.
“At the time of elections whose photos were splashed all over town? The publicity team of the party had approved only four faces for publicity – Rajnath Singh, Kalraj Mishra, Keshav Maurya and mine. We created the opportunity and now Yogi chala rahein hai (is running the business),” she said.
“Government is not a patent, but it is lok tantra (democracy)”
Uma Bharati’s political life has had an interesting trajectory. Her rise to power is credited to the relations she has shared with party stalwarts over the years. The former Prime Minister fondly called her “Raj Dulari and Kanya Kumari.”
Bharati spoke fondly of the time when after her resignation as chief minister in 2014, the Governor of Bihar, Lalji Tandon had chartered a helicopter to urge her to join the new Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet as a minister. But Bharti had responded to the request saying she will not be able to oblige before Navratri.
“If Atal ji thinks I should become the minister, he should make me pledge alone,” she said.
The demands of the Raj Dulari were addressed and she was made inducted into the cabinet along with Arun Jaitley.
In another instant, Bharti remembered LK Advani, “I admired him, and the fact that he is so disciplined. He is above the ticket and seat – he is not contesting from Gandhinagar and that is not going to diminish his stature in anyway. He won’t win or lose with this. He is above these considerations,” said Uma.
On Opposition and Politics
Ahead of the elections, Uma has adapted her views to her office. She speaks like a party vice president. When asked about the much brouhaha over temple visits of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi’s visit to temples and Ayodhya.
Bharati responded to these acts as individual choices while shifting the attack on the party.
“These individual freedoms and choices, I don’t think we should discuss this, what is worth discussing is Congress’ stand on Ram Mandir,” she added.
In point of fact, the ongoing speculation over the result of the SP-BSP alliance in UP also doesn’t seem to bother her.
“The parties can come together but their voters won’t. We are not in 1993. SP voters feel they were neglected by BSP when it was in power and BSP voters feel they lost when SP was in power. This sentiment is going to benefit BJP,” she said.
In the year ahead, which has Bharati adjusting and adapting multiple changes, the BJP vice president also has plans to lose weight.
She is content also with the fact that her memory has not faded as begins to take on newer responsibilities. She recited the poetry that she had heard in 1994 in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Bahar aye dharti par khoob gire nausheen, chamak jaye boota boota log kahe ameen (Let the world bloom in spring. Every bud should shine, with people saying amen). I still remember this poetry, I learnt in 1994 in Jammu and Kashmir. My mind is sound. I am going to work as a strong Modi sahyogi,” she declared.
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