The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong drops letter bomb on Jaya

New Delhi, Aug. 30: Raking up Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin, Jayalalithaa had thrown a challenge on Wednesday to “show me a single statement where I had supported her as Prime Minister”.

The Congress today picked up the gauntlet and sprang a letter that it said was written by Jayalalithaa. The letter extended “support to a government to be formed by the Congress (I) led by Mrs Sonia Gandhi” (See chart).

The letter, released by Congress spokesman Jaipal Reddy, was dated April 21, 1999, and addressed to the then President, K.R. Narayanan, in the aftermath of the fall of the Vajpayee government.

The letter adds that the decision to offer support was taken at a meeting of the ADMK parliamentary party which met at 10 am on April 21, 1999.

“I am communicating this decision to you along with the enclosed resolution of the ADMK parliamentary party,” says the letter that carries Jayalalithaa’s name. Her name was then spelt Jayalalithaa, to which an ‘a’ was added later for good luck.

The parliamentary party resolution communicating the party’s decision was signed by the then ADMK House leader, Sedapatti R. Muthiah.

On Wednesday, Jayalalithaa had reignited a dying controversy by saying that Sonia would be a “disaster” as Prime Minister and was unfit for the post because of her foreign origin. Addressing a press conference, the ADMK leader had bluntly denied that she had ever supported Sonia for Prime Minister despite having an alliance with the Congress.

Reddy today launched a scathing attack on the ADMK leader, saying: “Jayalalithaa is a novice in national politics. She is an Alice in Wonderland of Delhi. We know her one-point programme is liberation from major criminal cases.”

Asked why the Congress released the letter today, Reddy said: “We wanted to expose her bluff as two days earlier she had denied of any letter extending support to Sonia’s candidature for the prime ministership.”

The letter strikeback was followed by a flurry of statements from Congress chief ministers, senior leaders and AICC officials, condemning Jayalalithaa’s opposition to Sonia as Prime Minister. Sonia’s managers also used the controversy to declare that she would be the party’s prime ministerial nominee.

Chhattisgarh chief minister and a self-proclaimed “Sonia loyalist” Ajit Jogi said: “Let it be settled for once and for all. Soniaji is our prime ministerial candidate. We have accepted her in that role since she took over the Congress leadership.”

A joint statement by 14 chief ministers of Congress-ruled states accused Jayalalithaa of belittling the legacy of her mentor M.G. Ramachandran. “The great patriot MGR would never have approved of such a low cunning in her or any of his disciples,” said the chief ministers’ statement.

A similar statement signed by senior party leaders said Jayalalithaa’s remarks were “uncalled for, irrelevant and speaks of her unstable mind”. The leaders endorsed Jogi’s view that Sonia would form the next government after getting a “decisive mandate”.

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