Was Uma Bharati upset over Mahajan, Mandir or Madhya Pradesh? The real reason has been covered up in a fog of lies and planted stories. Highly-placed sources reveal that the lady was angry over the rising fortunes of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a rival OBC leader from Madhya Pradesh. The BJP high command indicated to her that they are grooming Shivraj as the man of destiny in MP.
That's why Uma was livid and first refused to accept the post of general secretary. She demanded the power of veto over BJP affairs in her state. Advani refused but climbed down after RSS bosses and S. Gurumurthy intervened on Uma's behalf. She accepted the post of general secretary after five days only when Advani agreed to make her a member of a coordination committee for MP—the only state to have such a body.
One of Uma's main purpose in keeping a toe in MP is to block Shivraj's rise. He is just 45 years old, a fine public speaker, and a backward caste politician from a village in Vidisha from where he has won five consecutive Lok Sabha terms. Moreover, he is low-key, calm and rational. A very obvious threat to Uma.
A ex-president of the BJP's youth wing (also a post earlier held by Uma), Shivraj is one of the youngest national general secretaries in the party. First included in the team by Venkaiah Naidu, he has retained all his posts under Advani. He is also the secretary of the parliamentary board and the election committee.
He is one of the few second-rung leaders in the BJP who has shown his mettle at the grassroots. Says Shivraj: "I spend two days every week in my constituency, two in Delhi and the rest wherever the party asks me to go. I prefer to keep a low profile. I was not in Delhi when Advaniji's new team was announced." He also has the right credentials as far as the RSS is concerned. He was active in the ABVP and spent nine months in jail during the emergency.
He admits that he was opposed to removing Babulal Gaur as CM once Uma's tiranga case was dropped. "I opposed it because I felt you can't keep switching CMs." Yet, he adds tactfully: "Umaji worked hard for our victory in MP but the BJP is above individuals." But he may find this one individual more than a handful. The Uma-Shivraj rivalry could become another riveting battle among BJP's second-rung leaders.