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'Fix foreign origin issue'

Vajpayee said time has come for Indians to decide on Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin "once and for all".
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Bhandara
PUBLISHED ON APR 19, 2004 11:50 AM IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said time has come for people of the country to decide on Congress President Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin "once and for all".

Voters should give their verdict over whether people of foreign origin should hold the posts of Prime Minister and the President, he said addressing a rally here.

Referring to Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra, Vajpayee said Sharad Pawar and P A Sangama denounced Sonia and left Congress to form their own party "but now the party (NCP) has kept the issue aside and joined hands with Sonia".

"We do not compromise on principles," he added.

On problems being faced by the region, Vajpayee said suitable amendments will be made in the Forest Conservation Act to pave wave for completion of irrigation projects.

Attacking opposition parties for their style of functioning, Vajpayee called on them to play the role of a responsible opposition.

"We never underestimated the achievements of government when we were in opposition," he said.

Admitting he did admire openly Indira Gandhi for liberating Bangladesh, the Prime Minister, however, said, he was wrongly quoted by media for having called her 'Durga', which he had never said.

Vajpayee said he liked some of the policies of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru too and added "I am often accused of being a Nehruvian".

The Prime Minister pooh-poohed charges of working under US pressure, saying "we conducted the nuclear tests at the first given opportunity" and it was the Congress regime which succumbed to foreign pressure.

On his peace initiative with Pakistan, Vajpayee said talks would continue till a solution was arrived at.

"This does not mean we are relaxing our preparedness," he said.

Vehemently denying the Congress charge that the NDA government had failed on all fronts, Vajpayee, quoting Planning Commission figures, said the BJP-led government had created 88 lakh employment opportunities for youths.

Vajpayee dismissed Congress President Sonia Gandhi's apprehension that she was being "terrorised".

Vajpayee also dismissed allegations of giving step-motherly treatment to Congress-ruled states over central relief to meet drought, saying "it was the NDA which had given support to Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan"

Shiv Sena youth leader and executive president Uddhav Thackeray, who was to share the dais with the Prime Minister, failed to reach the venue.

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