The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Allies cool to roots row

New Delhi, Sept. 7: Jayalalithaa’s campaign against Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin may again die a slow death as most NDA allies are cool to the proposal of disallowing the Congress chief from occupying any high constitutional post.

No important secular leader has supported the ADMK chief, though some leaders and the RSS have endorsed her position. BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu, however, said the issue would be included in the coalition’s manifesto for the next Lok Sabha polls.

The only secular ally which endorsed the ADMK chief’s proposal was the four-member Indian National Lok Dal.

Janata Dal (United) president and Union minister Sharad Yadav declined to react to Jayalalithaa’s suggestion to enact a law to bar foreigners from holding high constitutional posts. Sources close to Yadav, however, did. The campaign is unlikely to get an overwhelming response from the public, they said.

The DMK today said Jayalalithaa had raised the matter to divert the attention from the problems faced by people. DMK chief M. Karunanidhi maintained that his party would formulate its stand only at the time of elections.

“Even Sonia Gandhi has refused to comment on it. Why should I'” he asked. “When the issue comes up, we will spell out our stand.”

Even an ardent Sonia-basher like MDMK chief Vaiko has disagreed with Jayalalithaa’s suggestion. MDMK sources said they would not support Jayalalithaa’s proposal as she had got Vaiko arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The BJP’s key allies, the Telugu Desam and the Samata Party, which are strongly opposed to the Congress have also so far not openly supported or opposed the chief minister’s proposal.

The Biju Janata Dal is also silent with party sources maintaining that it would comment only if there is a substantive move by the government to bar foreigners from occupying high constitutional posts.

The lack of interest among allies and other non-NDA parties like the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the CPM, CPI and other Left parties have also put a question mark over Jayalalithaa’s desire to launch a non-Congress, non-BJP third front after the Gujarat elections.

The CPM, without which no front is meaningful, is wary of both Jayalalithaa and Mualyam Singh Yadav. Party sources feel both are playing into the hands of the BJP. The Marxists have not yet forgotten how on the eve of election of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as President, Mulayam toppled the People’s Front launched with much fanfare two years ago.

NDA sources said they are skeptical of a third front as no leader worth his salt will associate with “autocratic” Jayalalithaa. A new front will of course suit the interests of the scam-hit BJP as it will help split secular votes to the advantage of the saffron party.

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