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Uma Bharti submits resignation

IN THE EYE OF A STORM: The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Uma Bharti, coming out of her residence for addressing a press conference in Bhopal on Saturday. — Photo: A.M. Faruqui  

BHOPAL, AUG. 21. The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Uma Bharti, today sent in her resignation to the Bharatiya Janata Party president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, in the wake of a non-bailable warrant issued against her by a court in Hubli, Karnataka.

Announcing this at a press conference here, Ms. Bharti said that she had requested Mr. Naidu and the former Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, that it be approved by the party's parliamentary board before being forwarded to the Governor.

Charge against Sonia

She blamed the Congress, particularly its president, Sonia Gandhi, saying they were indulging in "petty politics" by raking up the issue of a court warrant against her in an old case in which she had "wrongly" been made an accused under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. It was unfortunate that a criminal case had been slapped against her for trying to hoist the national flag at Hubli's Idgah ground on Independence Day in 1994.

Ms. Bharti said she had defied the prohibitory orders and reached Hubli on August 15, 1994, to hoist the Tricolour at the Idgah Maidan, famous for the battle between Chenamma, the erstwhile Queen of Kittur, and the British. She was arrested even before she had reached the ground, and it was at another spot that a few persons were killed when police opened fire. Also, the former Congress-led Karnataka Government had moved an application in the court to withdraw the prosecution and even as late as June 10 this year, the State Government had maintained the same stand. However, subsequently it had decided to withdraw the revision petition filed by the predecessor Government [again led by the Congress].

She said that the issue of "tainted" Ministers was important when it came to national pride and asserted that she could not be equated to the same level as she was wrongly being tried in a rioting case. Many times in the past she had offered to resign but this time she was firm in her resolve. In fact, she said, her resignation was for upholding the dignity of the Tricolour.

Ms. Bharti challenged Ms. Gandhi to an open debate on the national flag. She said the Congress had no qualms about entering into an alliance with the Muslim League to form government in a State knowing that this party "was responsible for dividing the country." Now they were trying to target her only because she had tried to uphold the dignity of the national flag. Quitting as Chief Minister was hardly a sacrifice and the Tricolour was more important.

Ms. Bharti said that she would request the Parliamentary Board to accept her move to resign and permit her "to come out on the street" and throw an open challenge to Ms. Gandhi.

Regarding the case in the Hubli court, Ms. Bharti said she would give full respect to the court and fight the case both in the court of law as well as in the people's court. She had also sought Mr. Advani's permission to launch a journey from Hubli to Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab to uphold the dignity of the Tricolour.

Brother calls off stir

After Ms. Bharti left for Ujjain this evening, her elder brother, Swami Prasad Lodhi, who on Friday sat on strike at a busy road junction here demanding the ouster of some State Ministers accusing them of indulging in corruption, called off his protest saying that he had never expected such a rapid turn of events.

In the meanwhile, speculation has arisen on Ms. Bharti's possible successor.