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Second burst against Sonia

Chennai, Sept. 2: Intensifying her tirade against Sonia Gandhi, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa today demanded that the Centre convene a joint session of Parliament to enact a law to “ban people of foreign origin from holding high offices like that of the President, Vice-President and the Prime Minister”.

It was for time leaders of all Opposition parties, including the Left, and even “true followers of Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi to get together and search their conscience” in seriously considering an “alternative to Sonia Gandhi” for the Prime Minister’s office, Jayalalithaa declared.

The ADMK leader said the media had been “conveying an impression” that there was no alternative to Sonia for the Prime Minister’s post and her demeanour that “she (Sonia) is already the Prime Minister of India, cannot be tolerated.”

In her longest news conference since returning to power, Jayalalithaa made no bones about the fact that she “would like an alternative to both the Congress and the BJP at the Centre”.

Her elaborate articulation on this issue already indicates the ADMK’s intentions of playing a “much larger role in national politics”.

Jayalalithaa said there was nothing personal about her sudden outburst against Sonia. The idea was to ensure that the “great sacrifices” made by freedom fighters should not end in “putting a foreigner again at the helm” after 50 years of Independence.

“Let us never repeat this mistake,” she said, warning against the “evil of colonialism returning by the back door”.

Jayalalithaa said she would do everything in her power to “prevent that (Sonia becoming Prime Minister) from happening” and asserted that Indians were “sufficiently patriotic” to take her plea seriously. The ADMK chief said she was even prepared to “tour all over India, to appeal to the people” and rouse their consciousness “not to vote for a foreigner”.

The basic qualification for anyone aspiring for the Prime Minister’s post — “love for India and loyalty to India” — were “totally missing” in Sonia because her loyalty lay only with Italy, she said.

Jayalalithaa recalled how Sonia, after her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi in 1968, went on extending her stay permit every five years under the Foreigners’ Act even while retaining her Italian citizenship. She applied for Indian citizenship only after 1982, when doubts were raised “about the propriety of the former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, allowing a foreigner to reside with her”.

Sonia “grudgingly” applied for Indian citizenship in 1983 to protect the political interests of Rajiv Gandhi when he became the heir apparent in the Congress after Sanjay Gandhi’s death.

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