Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah and other leaders of ruling Congress party Saturday condemned a story on the party president Sonia Gandhi aired by Sakshi television channel, owned by party MP Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy.
In a statement Saturday night, Rosaiah said the episode titled "Hastagatham" on the affairs of Congress party was highly distorted with malice and was far from truth.
The programme was telecast Friday and repeated Saturday. The condemnation by the chief minister came after several leaders took strong exception to the stories being carried by Sakshi Telugu channel and daily newspaper published by the same name.
"It is highly deplorable and reprehensive to comment adversely on her (Gandhi's) early life which is not resorted to even by the worst opponents," he said.
Rosaiah recalled that Gandhi was elected Congress president in 1998 when the party was in decline. Under her dynamic leadership, the Congress party won and formed government at the national level twice in 2004 and 2009. She never aspired to become prime minister inspite of galore of opportunities to do so. It was the great sacrifice on her part which no other political leader has so far done in this country, the chief minister said.
Earlier, former chief minister N. Janardhan Reddy condemned the Sakshi story. Rajya Sabha member and senior Congress leader V. Hanumantha Rao warned Sakshi management that Congress workers would not keep quiet if it continued to air and publish stories against the party and the government.
Congress party's state chief D. Srinivas recalled that Jaganmohan Reddy's father and former chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy never criticised Rajiv Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi.
Congress party's national secretary P. Sudhakar Reddy said he would lodge a complaint against the channel with Press Council of India.
Legislator Shankar Rao demanded an apology from Sakshi management in 24 hours for carrying slanderous story on Sonia Gandhi and threatened to file a public interest petition to seek a ban on the channel.
The Congress leaders opposed to Jagan said the story was aimed at targeting Gandhi for not making him the chief minister after his father's death in a helicopter crash in September last year.
Defying the party leadership, Jagan has been visiting different parts of the state to console family members of those who died of shock or committed suicide following his father's death.