NATIONAL

Sangma in defence of Najma

NEW DELHI, FEB 26. The former Lok Sabha Speaker, P. A. Sangma, today pitched in in the war of words between the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson, Najma Heptullah, and the Congress leadership and said: "The real migratory bird is Sonia Gandhi and not Ms. Najma Heptullah."

Mr. Sangma quit the Congress along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar in 1999 after raising a banner of revolt against Ms. Gandhi on the leadership issue. He had even advocated an amendment to the Constitution barring people of foreign origin from holding any constitutional position in the country. Last month, Mr. Sangma broke away from the Nationalist Congress Party after the party decided to go in for an alliance with the Congress.

Describing Ms. Heptullah as one of the " most respected leaders " in the country, Mr. Sangma said the Congress had no right to call her a migratory bird. "It is astonishing they have a leader who has migrated from a foreign country and they are calling Dr. Heptullah a migratory bird." Mr. Sangma also joined issue with the Congress on its criticisim of her for seeking yet another Rajya Sabha term.