New Delhi: One of the biggest mysteries of Sunday’s Cabinet reshuffle has been the survival of Uma Bharti after initial reports suggested that she has been asked to put in her papers. According to sources, it was only after RSS’s intervention, that she was retained in the Cabinet.
As the Cabinet reshuffle was finally taking shape in New Delhi, Bharti was camping in Jhansi. There were also reports, which she later denied, that she was going to Varanasi to keep the pressure on her party building.
Meanwhile, Bharti's one time protege and MP from Damoh in Madhya Pradesh, Prahlad Patel, was in reckoning to replace Uma. Patel's stocks in the party had been rising over the past twelve months after he started working with BJP President Amit Shah to ensure the party’s success in Manipur. While BJP managed to come to power in Manipur, Patel’s influence was being noticed.
With his growing influence, it is said that the RSS had to intervene to retain Bharti in the government. She belongs to the backward Lodh caste and is perhaps among the tallest leaders from the community, after Kalyan Singh took up the Governor assignment in Rajasthan.
Uma Bharti, who has been stripped of the Ganga Rejuvenation project, has been retained as the Cabinet minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation.
Though Patel also belongs to the same sub-caste, he is yet to gain grounds outside Madhya Pradesh. Also, Bharti though currently an MP from Uttar Pradesh, has her own following in the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and carries enough heft to trouble the present Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the election year.
This is not the first time that Patel seems to have missed an opportunity to take the leap.
In 2004, after quitting the office of the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Bharti floated a new party — Bharatiya Janshakti Party. Patel was one of the few BJP leaders who stood by Uma and left the BJP. He contested against Kamal Nath from Chindwada, but lost. He later quit Bharti's outfit to rejoin the BJP.