The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Battle-set BJP on flag march
- Party equates Uma warrant with Jallianwala, govt rushes to shield ministers

New Delhi, Aug. 23: The BJP has got into battle mode after its parliamentary board decided this morning that Uma Bharti will resign as Madhya Pradesh chief minister and a new leader will be elected by evening.

The party will launch a tiranga yatra from Hubli (Karnataka) to Jallianwala Bagh because it believes the circumstances leading to the arrest warrant against Uma have echoes of the 1919 massacre by British police on the gathering in the Amritsar public park.

Sources said there was no question of Uma applying for bail, at least not till the Maharashtra elections.

“The case arises out of the movement for hoisting the Tricolour,” leader of Opposition L.K. Advani told The Telegraph.

The dates and modalities of the yatra will be worked out shortly. The yatra was originally envisaged as an Uma solo show — she conceptualised it once the court issued the warrant — but it was felt the party should involve itself and convert her arrest into a mass agitation for two reasons.

One, with its “nationalist”— as distinct from communal — overtones, the “liberal” constituency which had a problem with the Ram rath yatra might not oppose this yatra and may even covertly support it.

Two, the “individual ambitions” of Uma should not be allowed to overshadow the larger political interests of her arrest.

Sources recalled how much of an “individualist” Narendra Modi had become after he was given a free hand in Gujarat.

In what seemed like a throwback to the Ayodhya era with its shila pujans and jyoti yatras, BJP sources said a nationwide call will be given to unfurl the Tricolour in as many places as possible when the yatra rolls.

The main slogan —“Lathi, goli khayenge, Tiranga jhanda ferayenge” (We will face lathis and bullets to unfurl the national flag) — also echoes a phrase from Ayodhya.

“This (Uma’s arrest warrant) could not have been done without Sonia Gandhi’s consent. To send a police team from one state to arrest the chief minister of another state could have happened only with Sonia’s order,” alleged BJP parliamentary party spokesman, V.K. Malhotra.

The BJP’s plan to turn the Hubli episode into an Uma versus Sonia tussle — or “Indian rule versus Italian rule” as the RSS termed it — was based on the premise that the Congress president was “seeking revenge” on the former chief minister for having opposed her becoming Prime Minister.

Sources claimed the Congress’ Karnataka ally, the Janata Dal (Secular), did not find the arrest palatable. Nor did a section of the Congress.

Advani said it appeared as if the Congress was working overtime to strengthen the BJP.

“I recall that in 1984, after we received a major setback, the Rajiv government took a series of steps that enabled us to come back.

“The Shah Bano case, the opening of the locks (of the disputed structure) in Ayodhya, the shilanyas and the quarrel with V.P. Singh (then defence minister) which led to the Bofors issue. These days also, we have a number of issues. The tainted ministers, Savarkar and now Uma Bharti,” he said.

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