The Congress dismissed as "very, very immature" Sushma Swaraj's remarks on Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin, saying the Congress chief can become the prime minister "tomorrow if the party decides" and she doesn't need anybody's approval.
"Definitely, if Sonia Gandhi is to become prime minister, she does not need approval of Sushma Swaraj. If the Indian National Congress decides, Sonia Gandhi can take over as prime minister tomorrow, in 24 hours. That does not need anybody's support, anybody's okay.
"If she decides she can take prime ministership any day. She had many, many opportunities before to become the prime minister.... She was offered the prime ministership on platter. She refused it. There is no parallel in history," party spokesman P C Chacko told reporters.
Noting that about three-four times since 1991 Gandhi was overwhelmingly asked by the party to take over the leadership, he debunked the logic that someone who is an MP and also chairman of the national advisory committee could not become the prime minister.
Assailing the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Chacko said, "Senior and serious leaders should not make any such statements."
Taking a veiled dig at the BJP leader, he recalled that someone had vowed to shave of her head if Gandhi to become the prime minister in 2004.
"Parliament is giving all respect to Sonia Gandhi. There is no problem in dealing .....It is a very, very immature statement."
The issue of Gandhi's foreign origin had cropped up yet again yesterday with Swaraj saying she was still opposed to the idea of her becoming Prime Minister.
She also appeared to be unapologetic about the vow she had taken in May 2004 to shave off her hair if Gandhi became the prime minister.
"I have always maintained that Sonia Gandhi came to our country as daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi and wife of Rajiv Gandhi and thus she is entitled to our love and affection. As the president of the Congress party she is entitled to our respect. But if she wants to become the Prime Minister then I say no," Swaraj said at a book launch in New Delhi.
She was responding to Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh's veiled attack on her as to why she had threatened to shave off her head when there was talk of Gandhi becoming the prime minister in 2004 after the defeat of National Democratic Alliance.