| Defence minister George Fernandes offers prayers at a temple at Mattan, 60 km south of Srinagar, on Sunday. (AFP)
New Delhi, Sept. 14: After a series of unsuccessful attempts at launching a personal attack on Sonia Gandhi in Parliament, the Samata Party is now planning to publish a booklet “to expose” the Congress president and thwart her bid to become Prime Minister.
Defence minister George Fernandes, who belongs to the Samata, is known to be upset with the Congress for boycotting him in Parliament since the last 20 months.
The booklet will try to establish that Sonia poses a “security” risk to the country and hence should not become Prime Minister after the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.
The party is planning to distribute two-and-a-half lakh copies of the booklet to start with. They will find their way to the five poll-bound states of Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi — all ruled by the Congress except for Mizoram.
Barring the Shiv Sena, the Samata is the only NDA ally backing the BJP and the Sangh parivar’s campaign against Sonia’s foreign origin.
Since last year, Samata MP Prabhunath Singh had been trying to raise the matter in every session of Parliament, but the Speaker had put his foot down. Some unsavoury comments he made against her were expunged.
The debate on the Congress-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in the Lok Sabha on August 19 witnessed a concerted bid by the BJP and the Samata to shift the focus to Sonia’s origin. The BJP has gone all out with even senior leaders like L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi raking it up in public meetings.
To lend more credibility to its attack, the BJP has solicited support from some allies. So far, only the Shiv Sena and the Samata have openly backed the saffron agenda.
However, much to the BJP’s relief, non-NDA parties like the ADMK, the Nationalist Congress Party and even the Samajwadi Party are likely to raise their voices against Sonia’s Italian origin.
The Samajwadi-led government in Lucknow is supported by the Congress and chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had made it clear that Sonia’s foreign origin is no longer an issue.
However, Mulayam Singh was evasive when asked on Friday whether he would accept her as Prime Minister.