The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP pins poll hope on Sonia theme

New Delhi, Oct. 19: The BJP hopes the spotlight on Sonia Gandhi’s “foreign” antecedents will put the Congress chief and her party on the backfoot in the Assembly elections.

BJP sources believe Sonia’s challenge to those who questioned her “patriotism”, at last week’s rally in Jaipur, was a “defensive” response and could become the “central theme” of her poll campaign in Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The ruling party believes the “foreigner” controversy serves two immediate purposes. “First, it turns the public attention on Sonia and not her chief ministers. So while, on one hand, the Congress claims its campaign will be a positive one to seek a renewed mandate for its four chief ministers, it looks like it will be Sonia who will put herself on centrestage,” a BJP leader said. Their “inference” is that a Sonia-centric theme will not help the Congress in the polls.

Second, the BJP believes the issue betrays the Congress’ “sense of helplessness” as the “foreigner charge has not been raked up by us so much as the Congress’ present and prospective allies”.

“So, how can the Congress claim to be the NDA’s alternative when, barring Laloo Prasad Yadav, it does not have a single ally'” a source asked.

The Congress’ campaign is expected to dwell as much on its governments’ “achievements” as on the Centre’s “failures”.

But the BJP maintains that “speaking on our government’s supposed corruption, inflation, unemployment and Hindutva will not detract from the major and real failures of the (Congress’) Digvijay, Ajit Jogi, Ashok Gehlot and Sheila Dixit governments”.

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