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Definitely not cricket

The BJP must find Sonia Gandhi?s foreign origin riveting stuff.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2004 18:49 IST

The BJP must find Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin riveting stuff. Not a day passes when a party top gun does not holler that the Congress leader should be rendered ineligible for the PM’s post. The subject has been raised to the level of a ‘national issue’. Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, in particular, appears persistent in heckling the Congress president as his ‘rath’ advances. It would appear that even the Ram temple issue has been put in the shade, an extraordinary event for a party like the BJP.

With the NDA’s lead party setting the tone, the virus seems to be spreading to some of its allies, notably the JD(U), the TDP and the AIADMK. ‘Sustained personal attacks’ against Ms Gandhi by the AIADMK’s top leadership is said to be troubling even the Election Commission. The commission is reportedly of the view that while the question of foreign origin can be a political issue, it may consider reminding parties that the model code of conduct enjoins upon them to avoid ‘personal attacks’. Some of the lesser lights of the NDA alliance have been vitriolic about Ms Gandhi, a former UP BJP chief even likening her to a character from the Mahabharata who presumably brought misfortune upon her family. This is as low as it gets.

The hounding of Ms Gandhi is a mystery, considering that the NDA brass seeks to persuade the country that the Congress does not stand a ghost of a chance in this election. Why, then, tell the electorate that the NDA would press a Constitution amendment making naturalised citizens ineligible for the prime minister’s post. Ms Gandhi has asked why the NDA did not do so when it had the chance in the last five years. The Constitution Review Commission set up by the Vajpayee government was silent on the step. The Supreme Court has held that the law does not discriminate between different categories of citizens. Whatever its drawbacks, the NDA’s ‘India Shining’ campaign had the merit of propagating the government’s putative achievements. The targeting of Ms Gandhi is pure negativity.