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TDP to keep away from anti-Sonia protests

By Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad
May 18, 2004 11:52 IST
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The Telugu Desam Party has decided not to join the countrywide protests planned by its electoral ally - Bharatiya Janata Party - against Congress president Sonia Gandhi taking over as prime minister.

In an informal chat with newspersons, senior TDP leaders Ummareddy Venkateswarlu and S Venugopalachary maintained that the TDP continued to be with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

"Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin was one of the issues on which we went to the people and the people have given their mandate in her favour. It is no longer an issue as far as we are concerned," Venugopalachary said.

Another reason for the TDP's reluctance to support the BJP agitation is that the Sangh Parivar would be spearheading it. In view of the TDP's rout in the recent assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh, any association with the parivar would further alienate the minorities, the party fears.

At the TDP politburo's meeting on Monday night, party president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu suggested the party take an independent stand on all major issues.

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During electioneering, Naidu had launched a tirade against Gandhi's foreign origin and exhorted the voters to inflict a crushing defeat on the Congress for 'trying to barter away the country's freedom'.

The TDP manifesto also pointed out that the nationality of persons holding high positions was an important issue for the country and promised to seek enactment of legislation to disallow people of foreign origin from occupying top constitutional positions such as President and prime minister of the country.
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Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad