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Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia shoots sabotage salvo

New Delhi, Feb. 7: A day after the Prime Minister accused the Congress of playing “immoral politics”, Sonia Gandhi got even, charging the BJP with allegedly trying to block various parties from aligning with her.

Carrying on from her recent statement that the BJP was “afraid of a woman”, the Congress chief said its effort seemed to be to woo and spirit away every party she was trying to ally with.

“Some people are working very hard to prevent certain leaders from working with us,” Sonia said during a chat with reporters over lunch at her 10 Janpath home. But she voiced confidence that an anti-BJP alliance would be firmed up in the country within a month.

Speaking specifically of the BJP bid to sabotage her tie-up with Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, she said: “According to reports, undue pressure is being brought on her against aligning with the Congress.”

Although Sonia is blaming it on the BJP, Mayavati had made her reluctance to tie up with the Congress clear last week. She had also indicated she was not against doing business with the BJP. But the Congress, which has been wooing her since January, has kept its options open. Claiming that talks were on with other Uttar Pradesh parties, Sonia said: “Reality in Uttar Pradesh is that it (politics) is divided into castes. It (tie-up with BSP) will certainly help both the parties if we manage to work together.”

Sonia said the BJP was up to its tactics not in Uttar Pradesh alone. It was trying to wreck her efforts to sew up an alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha too. “Whomever we approach, the BJP also approaches them and pressures them not to go with us,” she alleged.

Although Sonia did not take names, Congress leaders alleged similar tactics were being used on other parties also, including Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, Bansi Lal’s Haryana Vikas Party and the Telengana Rashtra Samiti in Andhra Pradesh.

Individual leaders, too, were not being spared, they said, citing the instance of prominent Karnataka Scheduled Caste leader Ramesh Jigjinagi. Ramesh was a Janata Dal (U) MP in the 13th Lok Sabha and recently switched to the BJP.

Sonia said, of late, the BJP had been agonising over her children, Rahul and Priyanka, too, which was why it was constantly harping on “dynasty”. All signals clearly were that the BJP was “rattled”, she said.

“The BJP’s talk of dynasty rule is a joke,” she said, told it had been badmouthing the alleged bid to rope them in. Only yesterday, the Prime Minister had made a veiled attack on the Congress, saying people in his party had to climb up the hierarchy through hard work and not be pitchforked to the top by dynasty.

Hitting back, Sonia said the BJP should realise its allies in the NDA were dynasty-based, too. The Telugu Desam was headed by .T. Rama Rao’s son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu, the Biju Janata Dal by Biju Patnaik’s son Naveen Patnaik, and Devi Lal’s Indian National Lok Dal by his son Om Prakash Chautala, she pointed out.

Continuing to list examples, she said the National Conference Party in Jammu and Kashmir had always been led by the Sheikh Abdullah family, the Samajwadi Party by the Mulayam Singh Yadav family and the DMK by the Karunanidhi family.

But asked if Rahul and Priyanka would take the plunge ahead of the general elections, she said: “You have to ask them whether they want to join politics or go for campaigning in the coming Lok Sabha polls. It will be entirely their choice.”

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