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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05MUMBAI2252
2005-11-28 09:00:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Consulate Mumbai
Cable title:  

MADHYA PRADESH: FIREBRAND BHARTI SIDELINED AS BJP NAMES NEW

Tags:   PINR  PGOV  PREL  IN 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUMBAI 002252 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINR PGOV PREL IN
SUBJECT: MADHYA PRADESH: FIREBRAND BHARTI SIDELINED AS BJP NAMES NEW
CHIEF MINISTER

REF: MUMBAI 2076

Summary
-------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUMBAI 002252

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINR PGOV PREL IN
SUBJECT: MADHYA PRADESH: FIREBRAND BHARTI SIDELINED AS BJP NAMES NEW
CHIEF MINISTER

REF: MUMBAI 2076

Summary
--------------


1. (SBU) On November 26, the BJP national leadership replaced
Madhya Pradesh (MP)Chief Minister Babulal Gaur with state party
President Shivraj Singh Chauhan. The action was a blow to
former MP chief minister Uma Bharti, a controversial and
boisterous politician who had lobbied heavily behind the scenes
to oust Gaur in hopes of returning as chief minister (reftel).
In a move apparently aimed at pacifying Bharti, the BJP national
leadership named her BJP national general secretary. The BJP
leadership's decision to sideline Bharti is seen as a victory
for the party's second-tier leadership, which both resents and
fears Bharti's firebrand political style and her recent
reemergence as a political force following her suspension from
the party in late 2004. End summary.

BJP Leadership Moves Without Consulting State Parliament
-------------- --------------


2. (SBU) The BJP took the decision to replace the MP chief
minister without prior consultations with the party's faction in
the state parliament. Some observers had commented that the
central leadership wanted to avoid a direct encounter with the
many parliament members loyal to the firebrand Bharti.
Nonetheless, we expect most BJP legislators to support the
change. Chauhan and his new cabinet will likely be sworn in on
November 29 or 30.


3. (SBU) In comments to the media, many members of Bharti's
sizable contingent of MP supporters expressed disappointment
that their leader fell short of her goal of recapturing the
Chief Minister post. However, as of November 28 it did not
appear that Bharti's loyalists had either the critical mass or
the political will to challenge the central leadership's
decision. Bharti herself has not made any public comments since
the party leadership announced its decision.


4. (SBU) Gaur succeeded Bharti as chief minister in August 2004.
Bharti was forced to resign after the MP police issued a
warrant for her arrest. In the mid-1990s Bharati allegedly
sponsored a demonstration in support of the national flag that
resulted in a violent clash with political opponents and she was

charged with incitement to riot. Within a month, the charges
were dropped, but the party leadership refused to reinstate her.
Many of her supporters believed that Bharati fell victim to a
political trick played on her by second-rung MP BJP leaders who
felt threatened by her popularity. She began to air her
grievances publicly, and in December 2004 even incurred a party
suspension for confronting BJP leaders on live television. She
was late reinstated and actively campaigned for the BJP in the
recent Bihar elections.

Chauhan Will Be Fourth CM Since 2003
--------------


5. (SBU) Gaur was the third chief minister in Madhya Pradesh in
as many years. He was viewed as a weak and ineffective leader
of an administration tainted by numerous corruption charges.
There was a strong movement in both MP and at the national level
to oust him. Bharti tried to capitalize on this discontent in
her own campaign to regain the CM job in Bhopal. In doing so,
she encountered the resistance of the second-tier political
leadership of the BJP, which resents her abrasive political
style and feels threatened by her continued widespread
popularity at the grassroots level.

Comment
--------------


6. (SBU) Bharti won her battle to oust Gaur but lost the war she
had waged to be reinstated as chief minister. This is the
latest step by the national BJP leadership to tighten its grip
in the Hindu heartland after the NDA's recent strong performance
in the Bihar elections. At the same time, however, the party
leadership was not interested in furthering the political
ambitions of the volatile and incalculable Bharti, who has been
mounting a successful political comeback since her party
suspension in late 2004. The move to keep her out of power in
Bhopal can be seen as a victory for the second-tier leadership
of the BJP, which is maneuvering for position ahead of the
planned retirement of party president LK Advani later this year.
It is unlikely, however, that the BJP has heard the last of the
ambitious Bharti, who will no doubt use her political talents
and the grassroots resentment towards the central BJP
leadership's decision to launch another attempt at regaining
power in Bhopal. As part of its consolidation of power in the
Hindi belt, the BJP could well turn to Rajasthan next, where
another charismatic female politician, Vasundhara Raje, faces
factional opposition. Rumor had it that Raje would be offered
the General Secretary slot to entice her back to New Delhi.
Once the BJP deals with factionalism in its Hindi belt bastions,
it will likely focus on Uttar Pradesh, where national parties
like the BJP and Congress have had little success in breaking
the stranglehold of regional politicians. End comment.

Biography of New MP Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan
-------------- --------------


7. (U) Shivraj Singh Chouhan was born on 5 March 1959 in Jait
village of Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh. He received an
M.A. in Philosophy from Bhopal University, Madhya Pradesh, and
is an agriculturist by profession. Chouhan has been a member
of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (R.S.S.) since 1972, and has
been active in various roles in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
and its youth movement since the late 1970s. In 1990 he was
elected to the legislative assembly of Madhya Pradesh. In 1991,
he was elected to the Lok Sabha, representing the Vidisha
Constituency of Madhya Pradesh. He has been reelected to the
Lok Shabha four times, the last time in 2004. In 1992 he was
named general secretary of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. From
2000-2003 Chouhan was a National Secretary, and in 2004 he was
named National General Secretary for the BJP. In early 2005 he
was named BJP party president in Madhya Pradesh. He resigned
this post after being designated as new Chief Minister of Madhya
Pradesh on November 26, 2005. He and his spouse Sadhna Singh
Chouhan were married on May 5, 1992, and have two sons.
OWEN