North India

Uma Bharti goes against BJP, bats for OBC quota within women’s quota

Bharti, a former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, said she was disappointed at there not being a special quota of 27 per cent reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the Women's Reservation Bill, which mandates a 33 per cent reservation for women in both the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the state assemblies.

Bhopal: While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has positioned itself to take all the credit for the ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ passed unanimously during the recent special session of Parliament, former Union minister Uma Bharti has voiced her disappointment.

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Bharti, a former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, said she was disappointed at there not being a special quota of 27 per cent reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the Women’s Reservation Bill, which mandates a 33 per cent reservation for women in both the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the state assemblies.

Bharti has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express her concern and now she has decided to stand against the Bill, claiming she had raised her voice for the OBC quota when the Bill was presented for the first time in 1996.

“When Deve Gowda ji (ex-PM) presented the Women’s Reservation Bill in 1996, I proposed OBC reservation in it. That day, the Congress and our party BJP were unanimous in the House to approve it without OBC reservation and were ready to support it,” Bharti said talking to the press in Bhopal on Saturday. 

In order to make her voice stronger for the OBC quota – she also belongs to the community – Bharti addressed a gathering of OBCs at her official residence in Bhopal on Saturday. She warned that if the central leadership continued to ignore her voice, the BJP may find the results in the forthcoming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh disappointing.

“Madhya Pradesh where the OBC population is around 51 per cent, will be a testing ground for the BJP in the forthcoming elections. I am against our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but I will fight for our people and if needed a mass movement will be launched in Madhya Pradesh,” Bharti added.

Political observers were of the view that Bharti was struggling to regain her lost political ground in Madhya Pradesh and has been disappointed over being sidelined on various important occasions. However, Bharti denied these claims stating that she has never lost ground among her supporters.

“If you are criticizing me, it is your right to do so, but, two things I won’t accept. First, that I am struggling to find my lost political ground. Although, I was not active in politics and was out of Madhya Pradesh for the last few years, but it doesn’t mean I have lost my political ground. Second, I am not vying for CM’s chair,, the post which I had quit years back,” Bharti said responding to questions.

Bharti, who had become the first woman chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in 2003, said she was banished from her home state and made to contest an Assembly election from the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh in 2012 because leaders in Madhya Pradesh argued that her presence would destabilize the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government and the party.

As Madhya Pradesh approaches a crucial Assembly election at the end of this year, Uma Bharti appears to be trying to create a space for herself and regain her former glory. Her outburst against the party in support for a special quota for OBCs in the Women’s Reservation Bill is yet another reminder that she is seeking recognition.

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