Sathya Sai Baba's support for Hindu political fanatic




Date: 05-09-03

From: Indo-Asian news service

By: Deepshikha Ghosh, Indo-Asian News Service. New Delhi.


Excerpts from the article "Uma Bharati rises to Madhya Pradesh challenge"

Uma Bharati, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader who wears flowing saffron robes of a Hindu ascetic has a very earthly task to attempt -- overthrowing a decade-long Congress rule in Madhya Pradesh.

Said one Madhya Pradesh BJP leader here: "She is a Saadhvi (saint) and she patronises everyone, young and old, with the same manner of blessing as would a priest. She expects everyone to revere her."

Bharati has a reputation for a foul temper that spares none. At the same time, she often displays disarming spontaneity that makes her hug her party leaders with unashamed glee or enquire about a journalist's neck pain.

Born in Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh, Bharati, the youngest of six children, became a preacher at the age of six. She burst upon the Indian political scene in 1984 and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989.

For many Indians, their earliest memory of the fiery "sanyasin" - the Hindu equivalent of ascetic - was images of her with arms affectionately draped around party senior Murli Manohar Joshi's shoulders in a spirit of revelry just after Hindu fanatics razed the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992.

"I am 100 percent confident the BJP will win Madhya Pradesh." A multi-gemmed bracelet flashes on her right wrist, another blessing, obtained from the high profile spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba.