Friday, Nov 07, 2003
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By Our Special correspondent
NEW DELHI. NOV. 6. The Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, today received support from the most unlikely quarters, the former Prime Minister, V.P. Singh. Sixteen years after he was forced to quit the party, Mr. Singh today came out in support of both Ms. Gandhi and her party.
Addressing a press conference this afternoon, Mr. Singh dismissed Ms. Gandhi's foreign origin as a non-issue. "She may have been born abroad but she is not a foreigner, she is now a naturalised citizen." Mr. Singh's endorsement of the Congress president did not stop there; he charged those questioning her origins of deliberately raising the issue to obfuscate the real problems facing the people. "Her past may be foreign, her present and future are Indian, as are her children."
He appealed to the voters in the States going to the polls to vote en - bloc for the Congress in order to ensure the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party. "The Congress is the only option available to defeat the BJP in these States, the voters must not fritter away their votes."
Mr. Singh, however, made it clear that he remained committed to the Left parties and the Janata Dal (Secular) and would support them wherever they were in the fray.
Mr. Singh appears to have come a long way from the time when he rallied the anti-Congress forces and formed the National Front before the 1989 Lok Sabha elections. He was also instrumental in the formation of the United Front in 1996, comprising parties opposed to the Congress.
Though he reiterated his support to the Left parties and the JD (S), he did make it clear that he could not envision a viable alternative to the BJP without the Congress. "I am a realist, the Congress is the only weapon available to defeat the BJP," said Mr. Singh.
He clarified that his appeal to the voters was being made of his own volition, and did not mean that he was joining the Congress. "After Gujarat, the real face of the BJP has been revealed. The NDA is only a fig leaf. Such forces need to be defeated and prevented from capturing power and that process must begin from the States going to the polls."
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