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"Sonia tried to make a virtue out of a compelling necessity"

Saturday 25 March 2006

Special Correspondent

President must go into episode of Government "shutting down" Parliament

Congress portraying the "embarrassing, inelegant, discomfiture" as an act of sacrifice It is quite obvious the resignation is only an after-thought

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa on Friday urged President Abdul Kalam to go into the "entire sordid episode" of the Union Government "shutting down" Parliament to pass an Ordinance on the Office of Profit issue.

In a statement, she said Congress president Sonia Gandhi by resigning as Member of Parliament and as chairperson of the National Advisory Council had only tried to make a virtue out of a compelling necessity. "Her usual spiel about sacrifice and nobility cuts no ice," she added.

"Farcical show"

The Congress had suddenly found that the high moral ground that it sought to occupy had caved in, leaving it a shambles.

The resignation, she said, was a "panicky knee-jerk reaction" to protect her position. Claiming that Ms. Gandhi had enacted a "great drama" in 2004 while handing over the Prime Ministership to Dr. Manmohan Singh, she said: "Today, we are witnessing a repeat performance." The spin doctors of the Congress had rushed to portray this "embarrassing, inelegant, discomfiture" as an act of sacrifice. "Nobody will be taken in by this farcical show," she added.

This was a case where Ms. Gandhi, "as the perpetrator of an act of vindictiveness" against Ms. Jaya Bachchan, "now seems to be hoist by the same petard." The Election Commission’s statement that the law was the same for everyone was the last straw on the camel’s back, triggering a flurry of panic in the Congress.

In order to protect the position of Ms. Gandhi, even Parliament was adjourned "without any qualms in a blatantly brazen manner destroying a sacred convention built over decades." If Ms. Gandhi had resigned a few days earlier, Parliament would not have had to be adjourned sine die in such an abrupt manner, she pointed out. "It is quite obvious the resignation was only an after-thought, when cornered, knowing that rushing an ordinance through would cause a furore impossible to contain," she said.

Ms. Gandhi still held several other influential positions such as chairperson, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and chairperson, Indian Council of Child Welfare, which received substantial funds from the Government, though they might not figure in the official list of Offices of Profit, she said.

The ordinance proposal seemed to have been dropped out of fear that the petition against Ms. Gandhi could have already been sent to the Election Commission and disqualification would be the result, she said.

Attacks Left parties

Ms. Jayalalithaa also attacked the Left parties on this issue. "They have always assumed for themselves the lofty position of lecturing to others about probity and integrity in public life. Today, they stand equally discredited. If they wish to redeem themselves, the Members of Parliament of the Communist Parties should also resign, holding as they do Offices of Profit."

See online : The Hindu

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