News

DATE=5/20/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-249632 TITLE=INDIA POLITICS / L BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: SENIOR LEADERS OF INDIA'S OPPOSITION "CONGRESS PARTY" HAVE EXPELLED THREE OF THEIR COLLEAGUES WHOSE CRITICISM OF PARTY LEADER SONIA GANDHI EARLIER THIS WEEK LED HER TO RESIGN HER POST. VOA'S JIM TEEPLE REPORTS FROM NEW DELHI, THE EXPULSION IS CONTROVERSIAL -- EVEN WITHIN THE CONGRESS PARTY AND COULD HURT CONGRESS CANDIDATES IN UPCOMING NATIONAL ELECTIONS,. // INSERT ACTUALITY OF CROWD CHANTING SONIA IS OUR LEADER // TEXT: CONGRESS PARTY ACTIVISTS WERE OVERJOYED BY THE DECISION TO EXPEL THE THREE DISSIDENTS FROM THEIR RANKS AND CHANTED SLOGANS IN PRAISE OF SONIA GANDHI, THE CONGRESS PARTY PRESIDENT WHO SHOCKED PARTY FAITHFUL BY RESIGNING HER POST EARLIER THIS WEEK. MRS. GANDHI SECLUDED HERSELF (LATE THURSDAY) BUT TOP LEADERS OF THE CONGRESS PARTY KNOWN AS THE "CONGRESS WORKING COMMITTEE" SHOWED THEIR LOYALTY TO HER BY EXPELLING THREE PROMINENT MEMBERS WHO HAD QUESTIONED HER ABILITY TO LEAD THE COUNTRY -- SAYING ONLY NATIVE-BORN INDIANS SHOULD ASPIRE TO HIGH OFFICE IN INDIA. SENIOR CONGRESS PARTY OFFICIAL PRANAB MUKHERJEE SAYS THE CONGRESS LEADERS HAD NO OPTION BUT TO EXPEL THEIR COLLEAGUES. // INSERT MUKHERJEE ACTUALITY // HOW CAN YOU REMAIN IN A PARTY IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH THEM ON A MAJOR MATTER MADE BY THAT'S PARTY'S HIGHEST DECISION MAKING BODY. // END ACTUALITY // // OPT // MR. MUKHERJEE DISCLOSED THAT THE "CONGRESS WORKING COMMITTEE" HAD MET LAST WEEK TO DISCUSS THE ISSUE OF MRS. GANDHI'S FOREIGN ORIGINS AND HAD DECIDED THAT THEY ARE NOT AN OBSTACLE TO HER LEADING THE PARTY, OR SEEKING HIGH OFFICE. HE ALSO DISCLOSED THAT THE DECISION TO EXPEL THE THREE IS CONTROVERSIAL WITHIN THE PARTY LEADERSHIP, SAYING THE VOTE TO DO SO WAS BY A MAJORITY AND NOT UNANIMOUS. // END OPT // ONE OF THE THREE LEADERS EXPELLED IS SHARAD PAWAR A POWERFUL REGIONAL LEADER FROM INDIA'S FINANCIAL CAPITAL BOMBAY WHO CONTROLS ABOUT 40 SEATS IN PARLIAMENT. N. BHASKAR RAO IS THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CENTER FOR MEDIA STUDIES -- A LEADING INDIAN POLLING ORGANIZATION. HE SAYS THE DECISION TO EXPEL MR. PAWAR AND HIS COLLEAGUES WILL HURT THE CONGRESS PARTY IN SEPTEMBER'S NATIONAL ELECTION. HE SAYS IT IS ALSO A SIGN THAT CONGRESS PARTY LEADERS ARE IN NO MOOD TO COMPROMISE WITH DISSIDENTS WITHIN THEIR RANKS. // INSERT BHASKAR RAO ACTUALITY // IN MY OPINION THIS IS UNFORTUNATE GIVEN THE KIND OF HISTORICAL CONTRIBUTION AND THE KIND OF LEADERSHIP THE CONGRESS PARTY HAS ENJOYED OVER THE PAST 114 YEARS. THE MODERATING FORCES HAVE NOT BEEN HEARD IN THE LAST THREE OR FOUR DAYS. // END ACTUALITY // EVER SINCE SHE QUIT THE PARTY LEADERSHIP ON MONDAY SENIOR CONGRESS PARTY OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN TRYING, SO FAR UNSUCCESSFULLY TO GET SONIA GANDHI TO CHANGE HER MIND. WHEN SHE RESIGNED MRS. GANDHI SAID SHE WAS PAINED BY SOME OF HER COLLEAGUES' LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN HER ABILITY TO ACT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CONGRESS PARTY AND THE COUNTRY. SONIA GANDHI WAS EXPECTED TO BEGIN HER ELECTION CAMPAIGN ON FRIDAY AT THE SITE IN SOUTHERN INDIA WHERE HER HUSBAND RAJIV WAS ASSASSINATED EIGHT YEARS AGO. HOWEVER CLOSE FAMILY FRIENDS SAY WILL INSTEAD ATTEND A MEMORIAL SERVICE IN THE CAPITAL AND THEN RETURN HOME TO HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS. (SIGNED) NEB/JLT/LTD/KL 20-May-99 4:47 PM EDT (2047 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .