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NCP softens stand on foreign origin

Vijay Singh in Mumbai | July 10, 2003 19:00 IST

The Nationalist Congress Party is mulling over a volte face.

Four years after breaking away from the Congress Party on the issue of the foreign origin of Sonia Gandhi, the party is now considering joining hands with her.

Addressing the press in Mumbai on Thursday, NCP's Maharashtra unit spokesman Vasant Chavan said his party was willing to 'reconsider' the foreign origin issue to achieve the objective of defeating the 'communal forces'.

MCP president Sharad Pawar"We have not abandoned our position on the foreign origin issue... but are willing to re-consider it since we feel that the top-most priority should be given to defeating fascist and communal forces, For us national interest is more important than anything else," he said.

The NCP outlined its stance after the Congress at its Shimla brainstorming session shed its Panchmarhi reticence and expressed willingness to enter into 'appropriate electoral and coalition arrangements' with secular parties.

Chavan, however, said it was not practical for the Congress to set a pre-condition that all parties should accept Sonia as their leader.

The decision about leadership could be taken up after the secular parties come to power, he said. "Instead of harping on the leadership issue, Congress should begin the process of dialogue with other parties," he added.

"As far as the NCP is concerned, our differences with Congress are not over but we are willing to discuss them," he said.

"The NCP has not given up Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin issue, but will be ready to rethink on it after the Lok Sabha election. We will be ready to compromise with Congress but we will not tolerate anyone dictating (terms) to us," he added.

"Sharad Pawar never said that Congress is a communal force. He just said that Congress is heading towards soft Hinduism," he claimed.

On Wednesday, NCP general secretary Tariq Anwar had said his party will not compromise on the foreign origin issue.

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