Uma Bharti: A Pioneering Political Odyssey
Uma Bharti, born on May 3, 1959, is a distinguished Indian politician celebrated for her dynamic foray into politics, her affiliation with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and her tenure as the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. Her narrative is characterised by noteworthy achievements, steadfast convictions, and active engagement in shaping the political sphere of India.
Early Life and Political Initiation
Uma Bharti’s political sojourn commenced during her youth when she joined the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 1984, she ventured into her maiden parliamentary election, facing a setback due to the surge in Indian National Congress support following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Undeterred, Bharti persevered in her political voyage.
In 1989, she clinched her inaugural electoral triumph by securing the Khajuraho Lok Sabha constituency. Her popularity and electoral success were sustained in subsequent elections held in 1991, 1996, and 1998, where she retained her seat. In 1999, she transitioned constituencies, triumphing in the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, further solidifying her presence in the Indian political spectrum.
Ministerial Roles and Responsibilities
Uma Bharti’s dedication and sway in the BJP resulted in her appointment to various cabinet-level positions. During Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure, she held portfolios in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Tourism, Youth Affairs and Sports, as well as Coal and Mines. Her multifaceted roles allowed her to contribute significantly to the nation’s development and progress.
Upon Narendra Modi assuming office as Indian Prime Minister in 2014, Bharti served as the Minister for Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation until September 2017. Her tenure focused on revitalising the Ganga River and promoting water resource management.
Ram Janmabhoomi Movement and Challenges
Uma Bharti played a pivotal role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of the 1980s and 1990s, organised by the Vishva Hindu Parishad. A major figure alongside leaders like L. K. Advani, her impassioned speeches and fervent support propelled the movement forward.
Bharti was present during the tumultuous events leading to the Babri Masjid’s demolition in December 1992. Indicted by the Liberhan Commission for inciting violence, she did not express regret for her involvement, acknowledging the political gains reaped by the BJP. In 2017, the Supreme Court reinstated a criminal conspiracy case against her and other BJP leaders related to the Babri Masjid demolition.
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Uma Bharti’s political trajectory led her to become the Chief Ministerial candidate for the BJP in the 2003 Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls. Conducting a vigorous campaign emphasising development and her reputation as a Hindutva firebrand, she led the BJP to a sweeping victory, securing 173 out of 230 seats in the legislature. She was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Madhya Pradesh.
Formation of Bharatiya Janshakti Party and BJP Return
In August 2004, an arrest warrant in connection with the 1994 Hubli riots prompted Uma Bharti’s resignation as Chief Minister and her expulsion from the BJP. A rift with the BJP and aspirations to replace Shivraj Singh Chouhan as Chief Minister led to her forming the Bharatiya Janshakti Party. Despite claiming the support of RSS head Mohan Bhagwat, her new party faced limited success.
Bharti made a triumphant return to the BJP on June 7, 2011. Entrusted with revitalising the party in Uttar Pradesh before the 2012 state assembly elections, she was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from the Charkhari constituency. Acknowledging her leadership, she was appointed as party vice-president to guide the BJP through the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Bharti secured victory from the Jhansi constituency. She held various ministerial positions, including Minister for Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation, and later, the Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
Personal Convictions and Diverse Commitments
Uma Bharti’s political journey is marked by her unwavering dedication to cherished principles. In 2011, she threatened Walmart with arson when the Indian government permitted foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail. Her resolute stance reflects her commitment to beliefs, whether in politics or personal life.
Uma Bharti’s remarkable odyssey through the dynamic landscape of Indian politics underscores her resilience, unwavering commitment to convictions, and influential role as a leader. Her story stands as a testament to the power of determination and the ability to make a lasting impact on India’s political panorama.