New Delhi, Mar 30 (UNI) BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani has said that he had strongly disapproved of certain personalised comments on Congress president Sonia Gandhi during campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections in 1999 when the opposition parties raised the ''foreign origin'' issue.
''Such personal criticism of a woman, and a widow at that, is clearly barred in India's cultural tradition, and nor can it have a place in democratic discourse,'' Mr Advani said in his autobiography 'My Country, My Life'.
He said there was no personal consideration that guided the BJP's stand. ''But, fundamentally, it was a matter of principle for us. I have good reasons to believe that other political parties, too, had similar principled and basic concerns,'' the Leader of the Opposition added.
''Speaking for myself, what influenced my thinking on the issue was not so much the legal aspects of the citizenship, important though they are in themselves.'' India was an open society and its culture exceedingly accommodative and assimilative, especially when it came to a person who entered one's family as a daughter-in-law, Mr Advani said.
''Like every other Indian, I have my sympathies for Sonia Gandhi for the tragedies that she has experienced in her life. I also admire the courage that she has displayed in overcoming them.
''Nevertheless, if there is one thing that has disappointed me the most, it is her active and irrefutable collusion in covering up the role of fellow Italian, Ottavio Quattrocchi, in the infamous Bofors scandal,'' he added.
Mr Advani said it was devoid of any political morality and unbecoming of a person aspiring to hold the highest executive office in India.
''For achieving this cover-up, almost every institution of the Indian Republic -- Prime Minister's Office, Law Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Defence Ministry, judiciary, CBI, JPC, government-run media -- has been misused.'' The BJP leader said the Congressmen would never be able to explain away the stigma on their leader and the party.
''The issue of her foreign origin resurfaced again in May 2004, after the Lok Sabha elections, and is still far from settled,'' Mr Advani said.
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