New Delhi: The issue of Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin came back to haunt her again on Saturday with former president APJ Abdul Kalam's latest book 'Turning Points, A Journey Through Challenges'. In one of the chapters of the book - 'Controversial Decisions' - Kalam has written that if Sonia had made "any claim for herself (for prime ministerial post in 2004), I would have had no option but to appoint her".
It was widely believed then that Kalam had reservations against Sonia becoming the prime minister due to her foreign origin and that was the main reason why the Congress president refused to take up the post.
Sangma, however, gave the controversy a different twist by once again raking up Sonia's foreign origin issue. "I will never support a foreigner to be the prime minister or president of India. I am firm on my stand," the Presidential hopeful said.
The former president in his latest book reveals how Manmohan Singh's nomination for the PM's post in 2004 came as a surprise for him.
Sangma along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar in 1999 gave up the membership of Congress over Sonia's foreign origin issue and formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). "It was my personal view, that is my view now also and it will be my view in the future till I die," he said on Saturday. He has, however, now left the NCP too due to his insistence on contesting the Presidential election.
The controversy stirred by Kalam's book has once again given an opportunity to the Bharatiya Janata Party and Sonia's opponents to target her over her foreign origin.
Targeting the UPA chairperson, the BJP said on Saturday that there was nothing new in the information. "Kalam's admission just proves that Sonia Gandhi enjoys power without accountability," said BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
"This is not new. Kalam has said this many times in the past also. Sonia Gandhi takes all the key decision in the party. She has power without accountability. She has not done any sacrifice," he added.
Meanwhile, Congress tried to deflect the tirade onto the BJP, saying Kalam's statement directly pointed at the party that "did not want Sonia Gandhi to be the prime minister". "What Kalam has said directly points to the BJP who did not want Sonia Gandhi to be the prime minister. They had gone to the President. This (Kalam's statement) speaks of the people who did not want to give Sonia Gandhi the right the Constitution has given her," said Satyavrat Chaturvedi.
Both the CPI(M) and the JD(U) also dismissed Kalam's remarks saying his tenure as president was a part of history and it holds no relevance today.
"The contents of the book are coming out as his book is soon to be released and the Presidential election is happening so this makes some part of interesting news. Otherwise what happened then is a part of history, nothing beyond that," CPI(M) leader D Raja said.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, who is also National Democratic Alliance (NDA) convenor, said, "Had he (Kalam) spoken this in 2004, it would have carried a different level of moral force. The remarks do not carry that kind of moral force now as his revelation came eight years after the event had played out. The relevance it had at that time does not exist today."
Kalam has said in his book that he was ready to swear in Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Minister after the 2004 polls when he was the President despite pressure from various political leaders before Manmohan Singh was nominated for the post - a decision that "surprised" him.
"This was definitely a surprise to me and the Rashtrapati Bhavan Secretariat had to rework the letter appointing Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister and inviting him to form the government at the earliest," Kalam has written in the book, which has been published by HarperCollins India and is scheduled to be released next week.