BJ's internal dissent over Gujarat comes to the fore

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Bhopal, Nov 29 (UNI) Bharatiya Janashakti General-Secretary Prahlad Patel's announcement that party would not withdraw its nominees from Gujarat Assembly poll and Madhya Pradesh's bypolls has not only brought internal differences of opinion to the fore but also isolated BJ Founder-President and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti.

''After discussion with the party's governing body and 15 state unit presidents, it has been unanimously decided that the BJ will contest the Gujarat hustings. Thirty-six names were announced for the first phase, submission of nomination papers and other formalities have been completed and symbols allotted,'' Mr Patel told UNI over telephone.

Describing Ms Bharti's letter to BJ Gujarat unit President Chaitanya Shambhu Maharaj -- regarding withdrawal of candidates from Gujarat -- as her personal opinion, Mr Patel pointed out that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) displayed no comprehension after withdrawal of BJ nominees in the recent Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

''In the light of the Uttar Pradesh experience, I will not like to repeat that mistake,'' he said while denying any confrontation with the firebrand sadhvi in this regard and pointing out that he shared the dais today with the 'sanyasin' while campaiging for the Sanver assembly bypoll in Indore district.

Ms Bharti has made up her mind to pull out her candidates from byelections to Sanver and the Khargone Lok Sabha seat.

While Mr Patel maintained that it was not unusual for a party's bigwigs to hold divergent opinions, observers feel that Ms Bharti's isolation is clear. Attempting to justify her Gujarat decision at the Indore district bypoll rally, she said, ''I feel that the Congress will end up deriving mileage from the presence of my party's nominees.'' Interacting with media Ms Bharti refused comment on Gujarat.

Yesterday, she wrote to Madhya Pradesh BJ President Ashok Tripathy and his Gujarat counterpart, asking them to withdraw candidates.

BJ sources said Ms Bharti had a long discussion with Mr Patel last night.

Observers feel that Ms Bharti has given the BJP a message that she has not backed off from the task of consolidating pro-Hindutva votes even at the cost of isolating herself. Speculation of her return to the saffron party has gathered momentum.

UNI

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