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Jaya, Cong in war of words

Chennai, Sept. 3: ADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa today found herself under attack from two Pradesh Congress units in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu following her tirades against Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins. Irate Youth Congressmen in Pondicherry today also burnt Jayalalithaa’s effigy.

Although Jayalalithaa’s scheduled meeting with the wife of the former Karnataka minister, H. Nagappa, held hostage by forest brigand Veerappan, here did not take place as the latter was indisposed, Amma’s verbal attacks on Sonia spilled over into the Veerappan issue to further sour the relationship between the chief ministers of both the states.

Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna’s reported remarks on her “state of mind” and “irrational and intemperate rantings” at a press conference yesterday provoked a strong rejoinder by the ADMK chief.

“Shri S.M. Krishna would do well to remember that when there is a crying need for cooperation between the two States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in nabbing the forest brigand Veerappan, such callous and irresponsible statements made by the Karnataka Chief Minister can only be termed as unfortunate,” Jayalalithaa said.

“The ransom amount of Rs 30 crore reportedly given to Veerappan (to rescue the Kannada actor Raj Kumar two years back) is as per the version of the STF and not something I have concocted to embarrass the chief minister of Karnataka.”

Jayalalithaa said she understood Krishna’s predicament on her views that “foreigner” Sonia should not become the next Prime Minister. “As a loyal vassal, he has no other chance but to rush unthinkingly and rattle his sabre when the political legitimacy of his satrap is called into question,” the ADMK chief said.

But neither Krishna nor “his High Command can afford to treat this issue as a school-level debate or to wish it away by terming it as one,” she asserted.

Simultaneously, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president E.V.K.S.Elangovan today dared Jayalalithaa to “file a case” if there was any iota of truth in her allegation dragging in Sonia’s name into the alleged smuggling of Chola period antiques from Tamil Nadu to Italy.

Elangovan told reporters that Jayalalithaa had no “locus standi” to fling such charges. In any case, people were keenly watching all this and they would give a fitting reply to the ADMK government, Elangovan said, adding that the Congress would launch a jail bharo agitation in Tamil Nadu to focus on bringing people’s issues to the fore.

Congress MP from Mayiladuthurai Mani Shankar Aiyar warned that people would not forgive Jayalalithaa’s “derogatory remarks” against Rajiv Gandhi’s family. The ADMK leader should stop making such defamatory statements against Sonia, he said in a statement.

Aiyar recalled that it was Sonia who had “saved” the Jayalalithaa government when the ADMK chief had “misused” her powers and had arrested former chief minister M. Karunanidhi last year. He observed that Jayalalithaa had accepted the “clownish idea” of the Janata Party president, Subramaniam Swamy, that she could form a third front at the national level and become the Prime Minister.

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