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Naidu's remarks on Sonia Gandhi's origin decried

By Our Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD, JAN. 22. Taking exception to the Chief Minister, N.Chandrababu Naidu's repeated attempts at making Sonia Gandhi's origin an election issue, the Congress leaders said it was an internal matter of the party and the partymen had the right to choose their own leader.

Addressing separate press conferences, the PCC president, D.Srinivas, and the former CLP leader, Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy, here on Thursday, said far from being ignorant about the needs of the people, Ms.Gandhi had more compassion and concern for people than Mr.Naidu, they said.

It was not the Congress but the TDP Government that had mortgaged the self-respect of Telugus to the World Bank for Rs.57,000 crores, they said. None of the Ministers were shown any respect by the Chief Minister, they added, recalling the snubbing of Major Irrigation Minister, K.Srihari, by the Chief Minister sometime ago. The State had seen the highest number of suicides by farmers and weavers under the TDP rule primarily because of the anti-people policies, they said.

Referring to Ms.Gandhi's dedication to the country, they said her impeccable conduct in public and private life should make anyone proud. She had not assumed office by backstabbing anyone but at the insistence of the party, whereas Mr.Naidu's rise to power would put even some medieval rulers to shame, they said recalling the series of events that propelled him to power.

The Chief Minister's references to Ghulam Nabi Azad too attracted their ire and they asked him whether he remembered his Youth Congress days when Mr.Azad was the president of the wing.

Why would not the Chief Minister's self-respect bother him when he had hobnobbed with the non-Telugu national leaders, they asked chiding him for terming Mr.Azad an outsider interfering in APCC matters.

They said Mr.Naidu was the least qualified among politicians to preach to others and perhaps he should listen to NTR's cassette (released after his fall and titled `Jamaatha Dashamagraha').

Earlier, addressing another press conference, AICC secretary, V.Hanumantha Rao, warned Mr.Naidu against dragging Ms.Gandhi's foreign origin issue into the picture.

Mr.Naidu should keep in mind the sacrifices made by her, he said urging him to drop the issue. Mr.Naidu was living in a glass house and must not throw stones at others, he added.

At yet another press conference, senior Congress leaders, K.Rosaiah and Mohd.Jani, also aired similar views.

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