Those who attend Uma Bharti's public rallies in Jhansi, come away either amused or confused – because in every one of her speeches, she declares that the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh will fall as soon as the Modi government takes over at the Centre. She also reveals in conspiratorial tones that as many as 50 BSP MLAs and 60 SP legislators are in touch with her to overthrow the Samajwadi Party (SP) government.
It's not only the people at her rallies but even political analysts sitting in Lucknow and Delhi who are intrigued by the rather incredible idea. "I don't know what is the point she is trying to make by making these statements," says senior political analyst Ramesh Dixit. The SP government has a comfortable majority, in fact 22 more MLAs than the 202 required in the 403-member House, he points out to assert that there is no way that mid-term elections can be slapped on UP.
But, those who know Uma Bharti from close quarters say one has to make allowances for her eccentric ways. The saffron clad 'sadhvi' is contesting from Jhansi, the centre of Bundelkhand, one of the most backward regions of the state, bordering her home state Madhya Pradesh.
The former MP CM has constantly been in the news, thanks to her rousing speeches often laced with rather incendiary remarks. So much so that the new slogan of BJP workers in her constituency is: "Uma Bharti Jhansi se, Narendra Modi Kashi se" (Uma Bharti from Jhansi and Narendra Modi from Kashi or Varanasi), virtually equating her with the BJP's prime ministerial icon.
Another example of her curious way of dealing with things is her idea of a Bundelkhand comprising only the seven districts on the UP side. Bundelkhand has always been conceived as a new state which would also include six districts of MP. But, for some peculiar reason, Uma always sticks to her theory for the new state. She has promised that Bundelkhand would be granted statehood if the BJP comes to power.
One of the main accused in the Ayodhya demolition case, Uma Bharti displays some of her quintessential aggression which reminds people of the firebrand 'sadhvi' of the Ram temple movement days. "Agar Modi ji ki sarkar bani to hamaare sainikon ke sar nahin katenge. Unki taraf se zaroor aa sakte hain," she says, inviting a huge round of applause from the gathering at an election rally. (If Modi becomes PM, our soldiers' heads would not be severed, though we may get some from the other side.)
She also comes up with bluster like: "Bundelkhand ki beti Italy ki beti ko khadedne ki taaqat rakhti hai," in a mocking reference to Sonia Gandhi when it was widely rumoured that she would be taking on the Congress chief in Rae Bareli.
In her speeches, the unsparing sadhvi targets her main opponent, Union minister of state and Congress nominee Pradeep Jain Aditya, saying: "He has been minister for five years. But he has never raised any issue of Bundelkhand in the Lok Sabha and he has not done anything for this region." She also attacks Rahul Gandhi saying that he came here, and made a sham of visiting Dalit villages and having food with them but did nothing for their welfare.
Uma Bharti may be going great guns against rivals, but is facing some bitter bickering within her own camp. Also, her biggest grievance is that she is now branded as an "outsider" on both sides of the border! Uma Bharti is currently an MLA from Charkhari in Hamirpur district of Bundelkhand.
Result of 2009 Lok Sabha election in Jhansi: Congress -- 2,52,712 BSP -- 2,05,042 SP -- 1,32,076 BJP -- 79, 724