Congress leader and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptullah on Monday said party chief Sonia Gandhi "humiliated" her.
In an interview to NDTV, she also praised Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. "He is a good man, someone who only thinks about the nation," she said. "He is a leader you can respect and trust. The Congress leadership has lost that respect."
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She said the problem was not with the party, but "with the party leadership". "The present Congress leadership has moved away from the ideology of [Jawaharlal] Nehru, [Maulana Abdul Kalam] Azad, [Sardar] Patel and [Mahatma] Gandhi. This is not a leadership I respect."
She said there was no respect left for senior leaders and party workers in the Congress. "When I was elected chairperson of the International Parliamentarians Union, Gandhi did not even bother to call me. I have been subject to all kinds of humiliation over these years."
Asked whether she was preparing the ground to join the Bharatiya Janata Party, Heptullah said, "I have not taken any such decision, nor have I been approached by the BJP. I am happy with what I have for now. I am not hankering after anything. This is not about any position or Rajya Sabha seat, but about my dignity and self-respect."
The Congress leader from Maharashtra admitted that the violence in Gujarat had shamed her, but said this does not mean that the BJP was anti-minority. "I think Vajpayee is a leader the minorities also have faith in. I think minorities should also look to the future and not be trapped in the past."