Uma Bharti won't contest 2019 elections; will focus on Ram-Mandir
On Tuesday, senior BJP leader and Union minister Uma Bharti announced that she would not contest next year's Lok Sabha elections, and would instead concentrate on issues such as the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and cleaning up the River Ganga. Bharti's announcement came from Bhopal, at a time when Hindu groups are increasingly calling for legislation allowing for the Ram temple's construction. Here's more.
Hindu groups, led by RSS, want Ram temple construction prioritized
Hindu groups, led by the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have been clamoring for legislation that would allow the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed Ram Mandir/Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. The RSS has also threatened a 1992-like campaign for the temple's construction, in the event legislation is not passed.
Uma Bharti's early political career
Bharti, one of the most visible faces of the Ram temple movement, has been one of the BJP's stronger generals. She joined the party at a young age, and contested her first parliamentary elections in 1984. Despite failing in '84, she won from the Khajuraho seat in 1989, and retained the seat in elections that were held in 1991, 1996, and 1998.
Bharti had allegedly incited the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition
Bharti was also present at the 1992 rally in Ayodhya, that turned into a riot and eventually led to the destruction of the Babri Masjid. Although the Liberhan Commission that probed the incident suggested that Bharti had incited the mob, she denied it.
In 2003, Bharti became the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
With considerable success from Khajuraho, Bharti contested from Bhopal in 1999 and won. Then, in 2003, Bharti was fielded as the BJP's chief ministerial candidate in the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, and she led the saffron party to a resounding victory in the state, winning 173 out of 230 seats. In 2014, under the Narendra Modi government, she was appointed as the Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.