New Delhi: Amid speculation of the return to former BJP leader Uma Bharati to the party, leaders of the principal opposition, who are opposed to her, have held several parleys with their senior colleagues, to thwart her re-entry, party sources said.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, held separate meetings with senior leaders L K Advani, Ananth Kumar, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and party president Nitin Gadkari till late in the night conveying his opposition to Bharati`s comeback to the party, they said.
Party sources said Gadkari, who is reportedly keen on return of Bharati, the OBC leader, wanted senior leaders M Venkaiah Naidu and Swaraj to convince Chouhan but when they appeared reluctant, he approached Jaitley but with little effect.
While sources close to Advani maintain that Chouhan had paid a courtesy call on him, the issue of Uma Bharati is said to have figured prominently in the meeting.
Gadkari is understood to have tried to convince Chouhan by suggesting that Uma will have no role in Madhya Pradesh and that her services will be utlised in Uttar Pradesh. However, the latter apparently remained unconvinced.
Chouhan even threatened to step down if Uma came back to BJP, a source said. He had become the Chief Minister a few months after Uma quit the post.
BJP`s quartet --Kumar, Swaraj, Jaitley and Naidu--are reportedly not keen on having Uma back in the party as they feel she is unpredictable, past her rabble-rousing days, and may even be a liability.
While Kumar maintained that Chouhan was in the capital to discuss who should be the next Madhya Pradesh party unit chief, sources said Uma`s return to BJP was also one of the issues he discussed in Delhi.
Advani himself has never spoken openly about taking Uma back in the party-fold. Uma had called on Advani yesterday to apparently discuss her return to the party.
Sources close to Uma said she has done her bit by resigning as president of Bharatiya Janshakti Party, which she had floated after expulsion from BJP, and conveying to BJP leaders her wish to return. An influential section in RSS is also understood to be pitching for her comeback, sources said.
A prominent leader, preferring anonymity, said Uma also wants to bring her close associate and former BJP ideologue K N Govindacharya to the party with her.