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Play stops for politics

Hyderabad, March 16: Sachin Tendulkar sent the ball flying in Rawalpindi — and Patancheru caught Lal Krishna Advani.

Cricket was taken off the air in the industrial hamlet near Hyderabad as Advani’s Bharat Uday yatra rolled in soon after the Indian innings began in Pakistan.

Worried by reports from neighbouring towns that thin crowds had lined the route of Advani’s roadshow, local BJP leaders identified the match as the distraction that kept people away. A quick-fix solution was found: If people won’t go to Advani, cricket won’t go to them either.

Around 7 pm, before the Advani caravan entered the town, a local leader climbed on to a makeshift dais and “appealed” over the public address system to cable operators to stop showing the match. The party’s ranks passed on similar requests to cable operators who were out of earshot.

The ruse did not push the attendance up dramatically but people living near the venue did come out. “We wish the deputy Prime Minister had come one day later to Andhra,” said one of the youths who was yanked off the match. The game was back on air after half-an-hour when Advani’s bus left the town.

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