Friday, April 3, 2009


It is said that Congress without power is like fish without water. One can imagine what was the condition of congress before 2004 general election. In 1999 when people thought that Vajpayee government is doing well, technical mind of Sonia Gandhi was working to topple the NDA government in centre. The key figure in the toppling the government was Ms Jayalalithaa. But what was the feeling of AIADMK towards Sonia can be seen in the event which followed later. Emotion is best summed up in a senior AIADMK functionaries own words: "Sonia Gandhi treated us as if she were a zamindar and we were the peasants working her land. We had to plough the land, sow the seed, reap the crop, and even carry it to the granary. But then she drove us with harsh words when we went to ask for our wages. And because we were untouchables there was no justice for us!"
The reference is to the manner in which the Congress (I) used Jayalalithaa in 1999. We will probably never know all the negotiations that went into that famous tea party hosted by Subramanian Swamy where Sonia Gandhi famously rubbed shoulders with Jayalalithaa. But it was implicitly understood that the AIADMK would not suffer if the Congress (I) came to power. It was with this assurance that the AIADMK backed out of the Vajpayee ministry. But then a jubilant Sonia Gandhi told Jayalalithaa, "We shall form a government on our own, and you shall not have any part in it!"
There was little that Jayalalithaa could do about it at that point. (She did, however, seize the opportunity to stand Sonia Gandhi up when they were supposed to speak at a rally in Villupuram. The Congress president cooled her heels for an hour before being informed that her AIADMK counterpart could not make it as a "sea of humanity" was holding her up.) But it was only a matter of time before open hostilities broke out after Jayalalithaa became chief minister for the second time. The last straw was probably the merger of the Tamil Maanila Congress and the parent Congress (I). The former had been created entirely because a section of Congressmen in Tamil Nadu hated Jayalalithaa. Sonia Gandhi made it clear that their feelings would be respected after they rejoined. In fact, she went so far as to use the Tamil Maanila Congress war cry of 'restoring Kamaraj rule in Tamil Nadu.' This was interpreted, correctly I think, as a declaration of intent to force the AIADMK out of power.
"She came to Chennai and vowed to restore Congress rule, did she?" is the AIADMK attitude, "Well, let us see who rules in Delhi." And then actress turn politician Jaya took 180 degree turn and realised that foreigner lady becoming Prime Minister of India is a threat to the country thus she made the famous bombshell about Sonia Gandhi's citizenship.
It was a brilliant tactic by the Tamil Nadu chief minister. The Congress (I) erupted in fury, giving the issue far greater publicity than anyone could have foreseen. But there was an element of luck in it too. For instance, S M Krishna, the chief minister of Karnataka, was drawn into an unwise comparison of Jayalalithaa's own roots. She was, he suggested, feeling shaky as her family hailed from Bangalore.
By comparing Jayaalaleetha birthplace of Karnataka with Sonia's birth to Italy Mr. Krishna has proved that in course of defending Sonia they have becoming mentally bankrupt.
This was unwise. Bangalore is part of India as Turin (or Milan, or whichever part of Italy the Mainos were born) never has been. Jayalalithaa hit back by accusing Karnataka of paying several crores to Veerappan when he kidnapped Raj kumar two years ago. And whatever little effect S M Krishna might have had were negated by the Supreme Court ordering Karnataka to release water from the Cauvery!
Quite plainly, the AIADMK leader has hit a nerve. How will she follow up the initial attack? Maybe by questioning Sonia Gandhi's other abilities?"Her only qualification is a marriage license!" was Jayalalithaa's terse dismissal of the Congress (I) president's skills. She may be right. For instance, there is a curious silence about La Gandhi's educational background. We all know the tales of how she met Rajeev Gandhi in Cambridge. But which college had the honour of teaching her, pray tell? Jayalalithaa also dismissed the claim that Sonia Gandhi became an Indian after marrying Rajeev Gandhi. She applied for citizenship as late as 1982 -- and that, as Jayalalithaa pointed out, only after the courts admitted a petition asking that all "foreigners" be removed from the prime minister's home!
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1 comment:

  1. Jayalalitha was a pure tamil Brahmin born in Karnataka.