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|January 9, 1998||
Kesri may give ticket to RaoTara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Congress chief Sitaram Kesri has indicated that he would give party tickets to his critics like former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao.
Kesri said partymen could not be denied tickets because of chargesheets as former Union minister Kalpanath Rai has been acquitted after being chargesheeted in a Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act case.
This clear climbdown in Kesri's earlier policy of denying tickets to such tainted leaders seems to stem from his fears regarding the Sonia Gandhi juggernaut. He also plans to boost his political fortunes in the post-poll scenario
Asked whether he would accompany Sonia to Sriperambudur, where she would kick off her campaign on the party's behalf, Kesri answered in the negative. Later, he said that nothing has been fixed as yet.
Significantly, although the second rung of Congress leadership comprising leaders like Jitendra Prasada, Madhavrao Scindia and Arjun Singh are ostensibly sticking with Kesri for the moment, Congressmen feel he will have to relinquish his party presidentship soon. ''Now, it is question of whether he will be replaced by Sonia before or after the poll,'' said a party joint secretary.
Significantly, the party leadership is tight-lipped about arrangements for accommodating the media in Sonia's election entourage.
The All India Congress Committee headquarters has been inundated with requests from media organisations to accommodate their reporters in Sonia's entourage. But the media has been kept in the dark so far.
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