The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP, Centre at odds on Sonia as PM

New Delhi, Sept. 14: The BJP may continue to question Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s credentials to become Prime Minister but its government has submitted to Delhi High Court that once a foreigner acquires citizenship, there is no distinction in the “single class of citizens”.

In a 23-page affidavit, the Union government has clarified its stand on debarring a person of foreign origin from holding the office of Prime Minister, President or Vice-President. The affidavit was filed by Surender Kumar, under secretary in the ministry of law, justice and company affairs.

The affidavit said: “It is submitted that for an election to the office of the President, Vice-President or Member of Parliament, it is not necessary that one should be a member of any specific party. Any person who fulfils the qualifications laid down in the Constitution may contest the election even if he is not a member of any specific party.”

It also asserted that the Constitution of India does not distinguish between natural-born and other types of citizens. “It shows a conscious effort on the part of framing fathers of the Constitution not to make a distinction between the “single class of citizens”, it said.

The affidavit added that the petition by Rashtriya Mukti Morcha president Ravinder Kumar should be dismissed as it was not maintainable.

The affidavit defended then President K.R. Narayanan’s move to invite Sonia to form an alternate government in 1999. “The President acted within the basic framework in the Constitution of India and the action of the President of India has the mandate of the Constitution and is intra-vires the powers of the President conferred upon him by the Constitution,” it said.

According to the Union government, Narayanan had not set any alleged “dangerous” precedent by inviting Sonia.

Congress spin-doctors plan to counter the BJP campaign against Sonia by citing the affidavit as another “act of duplicity” and “double speak”.

“They are saying something in a court of law and saying exactly the opposite in public. We need to call their bluff,” said an AICC general secretary close to Sonia.

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