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Uma train chugs, poll bell rings
“Even schoolchildren behave better than this,” an exasperated Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, had exclaimed last week when unruly members crippled the Lok Sabha. On Tuesday, schoolchildren turned up to witness how the politicians were behaving but Parliament was again adjourned for the day without transacting any business. (PTI)

Aug. 24: Fortress Hubli awaited Uma Bharti today as she chugged closer to surrender, but the Karnataka government piped down its arrest threat saying police would not touch her unless there was trouble.

Nearly 4,000 policemen and a company of CRPF personnel took position in the Karnataka town ahead of her scheduled arrival tomorrow. As Uma’s train rolled through Maharashtra, news came that the Election Commission had fixed Assembly polls in that state for October 13.

Prohibitory orders have been clamped in Hubli and all processions banned to ensure there is no trouble when Uma gives herself up before court in the Idgah maidan case. The controversial maidan, only a stone’s throw from the court, has been barricaded.

In Bangalore, chief minister Dharam Singh asked the police to ensure there was no hitch with the surrender proceedings. Although the police had earlier intended to arrest Uma the minute she crossed in to Karnataka at Raibagh, plans were changed midway.

Singh said the police would step in only if BJP workers tried to foment trouble during Uma’s journey to Hubli. “Depending on the situation, if the surrender is trouble-free, then the police will not arrest her,” he said.

But the chief minister warned that nothing could be planned in advance as Uma was famous for being unpredictable. She could well cut short her train journey and suddenly decide to take a flight to Hubli.

“Uma Bharti is a typical type of BJP leader. We cannot predict or anticipate her moves,” he said.

Typical or not, the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister has been drawing crowds by the hordes at railway stations since her departure shortly after midnight on Monday. Leave alone Madhya Pradesh, hundreds greeted her at Bhusaval, Manmad, Ahmadnagar, Daund, Pune, Satara and Sangli, all in Maharashtra.

Uma denied she was converting her train journey into a “yatra before Hubli yatra” with an eye on the Maharashtra polls. “I am trying to create awareness among the workers. To call it poll strategy is a canard spread by Congress.”

She said her interaction with BJP workers was part of her mass contact programme. “If taking Ram ka naam and tirange ki shaan (pride of the Tricolour) is dubbed communalism, it should amount to an insult to the country.”

Laying the blame for the Idgah warrant on the Congress, she continued: “How can Congress link me to violence' Since when has unfurling the Tricolour become an anti-national activity'

“What the Congress is doing is a well-planned conspiracy. I am not connected to it in any way. The violence was, in fact, incited by Karnataka police.”

Karnataka BJP chief Ananth Kumar said Uma would rather surrender than move court for bail. “She will offer herself to the police without drama. We will make arrangements for the tiranga yatra from here.”

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