Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Tiny Uma talks away Rae Bareli dance dirt
11-year-old in star turn
Rahul Gandhi atop his car in Rae Bareli on Friday. (PTI)

Rae Bareli, May 5: If yesterday’s lewd dancing before his mother’s meeting made Rahul Gandhi go from pink to red with anger, a pint-sized clone of Uma Bharti made him happy enough to forget, though possibly not forgive.

He spent half the day today to find the culprit who organised the dance to entertain the crowd as it waited for Rae Bareli candidate Sonia Gandhi to arrive and address them. The media were not given the name or names.

Today, until Rahul landed, 11-year-old Sadhna Bharti, who insists that she is inspired by Uma, kept the crowd glued to their seats with a great deal of sound and fury and moralising. Dressed in a bright yellow nylon churidar-kurta, she did what Rahul and Sonia had been diffident of doing: fire a no holds barred attack on their political opponents.

Rahul smiled, patted his saviour continually on the back and looked happy when he left the stage at Sehegaon.

Sadhna, who is a resident of Delhi where her family owns a health club and a gym, has adopted the Bharti surname.

She was drawn into politics in 2003. In the four Assembly elections that year, she campaigned for candidates of her “choice”, regardless of their party affiliation.

Come 2004, she had a change of heart. “I was swayed by Sonia Gandhi. So when Oscar Fernandes and Anand Sharma (Congress leaders) asked me to become their star pracharak (campaigner), I agreed,” Sadhna said.

The “discovery” did not happen by chance. Apparently, her “pravachans” (preachings) drew crowds in droves.

Her father and chaperone, Rajesh Rajput, said her recitation of the “Gayatri mantra” when she was a little over two convinced the family that Sadhna was a prodigy.

The similarities with another child wonder, Uma, do not end here. Like Uma, Sadhna is from the backward caste, Lodh-Rajputs. Whereas her older clone hails from Madhya Pradesh, the mini version is from Etah, Uttar Pradesh.

In this round, her father — who gives the impression of a man on the make via his daughter — claims she spoke in over 50 meetings for Sonia. On Tuesday, when the Congress president arrived in Setau village to address a meeting, Sadhna was on stage, holding forth on Uma. When she abruptly left, a “delighted” Sonia insisted she should finish speaking.

The small wonder takes her celebrity status seriously. She was miffed at having to wait nearly two hours at 42 degrees Celsius today before Rahul appeared. When some dust-slaked kids with runny noses tried to make friends with Sadhna, the little miss peremptorily brushed them away.

In her 45-minute “bhashan”, she called Atal Bihari Vajpayee a “kayar” (coward) who turned an approver when he was arrested before Independence. Lal Krishna Advani was a “chameleon”.

Uma “poses as a sanyasin but she is neither a sanyasin nor Sita, she’s Surpnakha”.

Sonia is “Saraswati mata”. “Don’t trust the key to Rae Bareli’s development to any Tom, Dick or Harry. Do you know who Advani’s parents are? Or for that matter, Uma Bharti’s? But this balidaan ki devi (goddess of sacrifice) is the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi, the wife of Rajiv Gandhi and the mother of Rahul and Priyanka. Give the key to her.”

Sadhna turned coy when asked if she would join politics. “No, I want to be a doctor and serve the people.” Her father looked on disapprovingly.


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