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Tuesday, Sep 03, 2002

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Jayalalithaa to lobby against `foreign' PM

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CHENNAI, Sept. 2

THE Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa, launched yet another broadside against the Congress (I) President and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Ms Sonia Gandhi, on the issue of her foreign origin and her desire to become the Prime Minister.

It may be recalled that during a press conference in Delhi last week, she had raised the foreign origin of Ms Sonia and questioned her eligibility to occupy the highest elected post, evoking protests from the Congress (I).At a press conference at the Secretariat here today, she revived the issue and said she wanted to "issue a call to the conscience of all politicians and the people of India" to oppose the move by the Congress (I) in projecting Ms Sonia as a Prime Ministerial candidate.

She said she was willing to muster support to oppose both the Congress and the BJP and awaken the conscience of the people. Her stand was not as a "foe of the Congress but as a friend to liberate the Congress Party from the clutches of Ms Sonia,'' she said. While political leaders who had achieved "power and pelf'' may support Ms Sonia Gandhi, the ground-level workers and cadres of the party, who had gained nothing, would not hesitate to support the cause, she said. She also disagreed with a questioner that she was trying to cosy up to the BJP by raising the foreign origin issue. Where was the question of cosying up to the BJP when it had dealt a raw deal to Tamil Nadu on the Cauvery waters dispute, she asked. However, she agreed with another questioner that there was need to evolve an alternative to both the BJP and the Congress (I) at the Centre.

On the timing of her opposition to Ms Sonia, she said that with the Parliamentary elections less than two years away, time was ripe to mobilise public opinion. Particularly with the Congress projecting Ms Sonia Gandhi, who, Ms Jayalalithaa said, was behaving as if she was in power. The media, too, was projecting Ms Sonia Gandhi as the only alternative to the BJP, she said.

Repeatedly referring to Ms Sonia by her maiden name, Ms Antonia Maino, she claimed that making Ms Sonia Gandhi the Prime Minister would only amount to permitting re-entry of colonialism.

She said she would urge the Central Government to enact a legislation at a joint sitting of Parliament to prevent individuals of foreign origin from holding high office.

If developed and more liberal countries such as the US can have similar legislations, India too should opt for one, she said.

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Jayalalithaa to lobby against `foreign' PM

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