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Sonia wielding power sans accountability: Vajpayee - The Observer

Observer Political Bureau / Agencies ()
February 20, 1998

Title: Sonia wielding power sans accountability: Vajpayee
Author: Observer Political Bureau / Agencies
Publication: The Observer
Date: February 20, 1998

Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Atal Behari
Vajpayee on Thursday accused Ms Sonia Gandhi of wielding
unbriddled power without accountability, saying it was
manifestation of a trend which was not in the interest of either
country or Congress.

"Sitaram Kesri is Congress president and is, at least,
accountable to the party rank and file. To whom Sonia Gandhi is
accountable?" he said, adding the Congress party's campaigner
owed an explanation to the people of the country.

Mr Vajpayee, who was addressing a day-long convention of the Lok
Tantrik Congress Party, said that even Indira Gandhi had not
wielded so much power as Ms Sonia Gandhi did and felt that a
multi-party. democracy, like the one in India, was required to be
guided by certain values.

"The Congress, however, seems to have given a go-by to democratic
traditions and values and is being controlled from behind the
scene." the BJP leader said.

Meanwhile, briefing newsmen at the BJP headquarters, party
national executive member Arun Jaitley accused Mr Kesri of having
a "hidden agenda" of diverting attention from the perpetrators of
the Coimbatore bomb blasts, by levelling allegations against the

He said that Mr Kesri's statements defied "both logic and truth,"
as instead of being vocal in condemning the blasts, he "is
indulging in diversionary tactics. "

"The blasts occurred on the route, which Mr Advani was to take to
travel to the meetings and also around the venue of the meeting.
The blasts were so timed to tally with his normal arrival at the
meeting. Mr Advani was the obvious target of the blast," Mr
Jaitley said.

He said that Mr Kesri and Congress star campaigner Sonia Gandhi's
language in the election campaign showed "some element of
desperation, and was highly unbecoming of a toll campaigner for
the Congress."

It was cause for "national concern" that a national party
president had chosen to react in such an "irresponsible manner,"
he said.

Mr Jaitley recalled that in the recent past Congress spokesman
Ghulam Nabi Azad had questioned the nationality of those who
migrated from Pakistan during the partition which when dove-
tailed with Sonia Gandhi's statement that if the BJP came to
power the country would break up were "pointers to the fact that
an element of desperation was growing in the Congress party."

He said that while he understood the "insecurities of Mr Kesri
that after the elections others may do to him what he did to Mr
Narasimha Rao, the reaction of other Congress leaders points to
utter desperation."

He added that it was unfortunate and condemnable that even the
Left parties were indulging in similar comments like Mr Kesri on
the bomb blasts.

Even the President and the Prime minister, he said, had condemned
the blasts and that senior Government officials were also
suspecting external elements in the blasts.

In another statement, co-convenor of the BJP central election
campaign, Mr Ashwini Kumar said that it was intriguing that in
the burglary that took place at the party deputy leader in Rajya
Sabha, Mr O Rajagopal's residence in New Delhi, no valuable
objects were stolen but "some files pertaining to the activities
of the ISI and Islamic fundamentalists were taken by the
burglars, on which he had been raising various issues in the
Rajya Sabha."

According to he statement, "Mr Rajagopal is on the hit list of
Islamic fundamentalists in Kerala, and being provided security
there. This burglary may be seen in the context of the Coimbatore
blasts which was the handiwork by Islamic terrorists."

Meanwhile in Aurangabad, BJP president L K Advani said that the
Congress has to give an explanation for the "eloquent silence of
Sonia Gandhi" regarding the Coimbatore bomb blasts.

"After listening to her emotionally-charged speeches on the cult
of violence in the country, which is undoubtedly a legitimate
concern, the nation is rightly intrigued by her eloquent silence
on the ghastly serial bomb blasts in Coimbatore, fully four days
after they rocked Tamil Nadu and killed over 60 people," he said.

Saying that the incident was unequivocally condemned by the
"President and the Prime Minister," Mr Advani said that "the
response of the Congress party stands in stark contrast."

Pointing out that a 60-kg bomb was found in a car in Coimbatore
on Wednesday, he demanded that the "police make an all-out effort
to defuse the remaining bombs and create a real sense of security
among the citizens and that the Election Commission and the State
administration make necessary arrangements to ensure free and
fair poll on February 28."

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