The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flip-flop on Sonia

Raipur, July 18: Is Sonia Gandhi a “security threat”' The BJP — which tried to steer clear of controversy by keeping scribes miles away from the venue of its national executive — waded into one, perhaps unwittingly. The provocation was the Congress chief, whose call to forge alliances with like-minded parties from Shimla, sent shivers in the BJP camp.

The party’s instinct was to rake up Sonia’s foreign origins but an articulate section was not in favour of it, realising that the Congress ruled more states than the BJP and that its party chief had won from not one but two Lok Sabha seats.

So, in an attempt to keep the issue alive, the BJP did a flip-flop on Sonia, hoping it would embarrass the Congress without hurting its own credibility.

This morning, BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was suddenly asked if Sonia’s “foreign” antecedents would figure in the poll campaign. Naqvi’s double-edged reply was: “We won’t make it an issue but in the case of constitutional posts, the issue of nationality and related issues would crop up.”

Question number two was if the BJP thought Sonia was a “security threat”. Naqvi’s response was equally loaded: “She (Sonia) is in India. Congress has chosen her as its president. We have no objection. Congress can have Pervez Musharraf as its president. But when people elect Prime Ministers, many issues can come up related to security and country’s interests.”

This evening, law minister Arun Jaitley was asked to clarify the party’s position on Sonia being a “security threat”. His answer was: “I have checked facts with Naqvi. Neither has he said nor does the party believe that the issue of foreign origin relates to security threats…. A constitutional office being held by a natural born citizen of India is a political issue on which our party has a view…. These are political issues and we will keep them at the level of political and constitutional issues and certainly not extend them to any personalised attacks on a leader of another party.”

BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu’s comment was the “safest”. “We have a leader in Shri Atalji, who is not only the leader of the BJP… but also the leader of the entire nation…. All the Congress can do is to take shelter under the Dynasty.” Dynasty was spelt with a capital D.

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