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TN: Parties set to cash in on 'office of profit' issue

Written by: Staff

Chennai, Mar 26: The debate on whether AICC President Sonia Gandhi's resignation from Parliament and as National Advisory Council chairperson was a 'sacrifice' or 'drama' might continue, but her 'sudden' decision had already taken the centrestage in the run upto the May 8 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.

The resignation has come as a shot in the arm for the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA) which will drive home the point that Ms Gandhi, by making a 'second sacrifice', proved she did not care for power but only for the welfare of the people.

This could even turn out to be a slogan for the DPA in which the Congress is a key constituent even as arch rival Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa ridicules Gandhi's resignation as ''re-enactment of the 2004 drama.'' However, the flip side is Gandhi's decision also raises questions on the stability of the UPA Government at the Centre with complaints pending against 40 other MPs over the ''office of profit'' issue.

The AIADMK hopes to take the wind out of the DPA's sails as it goes to town with charges the Centre was proposing an Ordinance on the issue only to save Gandhi.

Jayalalithaa had already appealed to the President to go into the issue of government ''shunting'' Parliament.

The unflappable DMK chief, however, came up with a quick repartee. Karunanidhi hailed Ms Gandhi saying by conquering herself, she had conquered the world.

This will no doubt have a postive impact on public opinion not confined to elections alone, say political observers.

In her reaction, Jayalalithaa ridiculed Gandhi saying she ''is trying to make a virtue out of a compelling necessity.'' She also described the resignation as a ''panicky knee-jerk reaction'' to protect her position. Joining issue with the AIADMK Supremo, Congress leader and Union Finance Minsiter P Chidambaram, hit back saying Jayalalithaa's remarks revealed her ''pathological hatred'' for Gandhi.

Accusing Jayalalithaa of having persuaded the Governor to make her Chief Minister when her nominations from four constituencies were rejected by Returning Officers in the 2001 Assembly elections, Chidambaram set the stage for a war of words.

Meanwhile, Congress workers staged protests throughout the state condemning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for ''forcing'' Gandhi to step down. In some places, they burnt BJP Leader L K Advani's effigy.

Also describing Gandhi's action as ''second drama,'' BJP Vice President L Ganesan asserted it will have no impact on the elections.

''People are well aware of the drama and the issue will neither create any sympathy nor impact the elections,'' he said.

Meanwhile, with rival fronts AIADMK-led Democratic People's Alliance (DPA) and DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA), having drawn the battlelines by releasing the list of constituencies, the election scene has hotted up in the state.

The two fronts were busy selecting candidates. Both the parties were expected to release the list of contestants in a couple of days.

The DMK had completed the personal interviews for selection of candidates last evening.


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