Sonia Gandhi Growing in Stature as a Politician


Sonia Gandhi in Forbes’ list of Asia – a rare honour

Sonia Gandhi is a politicans’ politician, a rare breed indeed!

Sonia Gandh, was a reluctant entrant to Indian politics more to save the Congress from extinction than to further her family interest. She did finally and consolidated the gains of he Congress Party. Never in the history of Congress party, has there been a party president so powerful, so sacrificing and so self-less, as Sonia. She is a rare breed and a class apart among the present day selfish politicians.

Politics was never her cup of joy. She once threatened to divorce Rajiv Gandhi, if he dared to join politics. So much was her bitterness towards political life.

She became India’s first family ‘bahu’ accidentally and Congress President equally accidentally. She feared for the life of Rajiv Gandhi. But then fate intervened and her fear came true, when Rajiv Gandhi was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber. She kept aloof from politics even after his assassination. She never let her children take an active part in politics. She resisted all temptations of office.

Then came an SOS from many congressmen to save the party from annihilation more particularly when Seetharam Kasuri, the weakest president, was heading the century old party. He was no match for the likes of Advani and Vajpayee. He was an utter failure and he would have doomed the fortunes of Congress party, if Sonia Gandhi had not answered the desperate call and stepped in to take over the reins of the party. She withstood all abuses from the opposition party for her faulty Hindi and English and being a foreigner. She took all the humiliation in her stride while taking the Congress party to a new height.

Sonia had her moments of glory to become India’s Prime Minister, not once but twice. In 2004 in particular there was widespread opposition to her ascendancy largely on the grounds of her origin. She was still a foreigner to many BJP leaders. To them she was a “Videsi Bahu”. But Sonia had no ambition to become the Prime Minister of her adopted country. She knew her foreign origin would stand in the way and she assiduously avoided such temptations, largely to keep her country united.

Sonia Gandhi kept all the cards close to her chest and surprised every Congress MP assembled in the central hall of the parliament in 2004 when she announced that it would be Dr. Manmohan Singh and and not she, who would be the PM of the country. In one master stroke she dwarfed the entire opposition and their calculations. The most powerful position came on a platter to her. She refused. She proved every one of her critics wrong that she was never after political power. That was an act of a master political tactician. Is there any opposition leader of today that has any trait found in Sonia’s character?

In five years of Congress rule from 2004 to 2009, Sonia was solidly behind the UPA coalition both as a chairperson and the head of the Congress party. She gave solid support to the efforts of Dr. Singh, when India was reeling under a series of terror attacks. Her statesmanship came to the fore when UPA govt performed its duties in keeping people united during the trying hours of 26/11, never buckling under the pressure to react violently, which was the purpose of the attack.

There was so much public anger after the Mumbai attack, that anybody in her place, would have forced the PM to go for a surgical strike against Pakistan. But political sagacity was at its best and rare in our politicians during that trying period. An imminent war with a rogue nation was averted. Dr. Singh under able guidance from Sonia Gandhi, proved to the world that he was not an accidental politician or PM but a mature politician.

The best part came when Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi kept the ruling UPA allies intact when the Communists withdrew support over the Nuke Deal with the US. But Sonia’s leadership came to the fore, when she asked Dr. Singh to seek a Trust Vote in the parliament.

Unshaken by the events at home following the withdrawal of support by the Communists, Dr. Singh faced the parliament and won the Trust Vote hands down, notwithstanding the shameful drama of BJP where bundles of currency notes were displayed in an attempt to tarnish the image of the UPA govt. He won the trust vote after one speaker after another from the treasury benches, outclassed the opposition with fiery speeches. The best part of the debate came with an inspiring and spirited speech by Pranab Mukherjee who dwarfed the opposition, and the lackluster Advani. All credit certainly goes to the leadership of Sonia Gandhi.

Sonia Gandhi’s golden run continued during the 2009 General Elections. BJP with NDA allies were riding high on the hope that they would easily unseat the “weak” PM Dr. Singh. Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi made inroads into BJP and other camps with their own style of addressing rallies exposing the chinks in the BJP armoury. BJP used Varun Gandhi to counter Rahul Gandhi. But through his hate speeches, Varun Gandhi proved a nemesis and a liability to the BJP that ultimately cost them dearly.

Advani’s personal tirade against the docile PM Dr. Singh and Varun Gandhi’s hate speeches, coupled with the greatest statesmanship shown by both Dr. Singh and Sonia Gandhi, easily won Congress enough seats to upset the apple cart of Advani and company. It was a historic win for the second time for Congress and allies. This time it was more a Congress gain than BJP’s loss.

When again the question of nominating the next PM came, there were cries and temptations to make Rahul Gandhi, a PM. But Sonia refused to fall prey to the calculated trap. She already projected Dr. Singh as PM candidate and Rahul made it clear that he was not ready for the top job. He was happy doing the rounds in UP where he had a task cut out for him to rejuvenate the Congress party and refurbish its image with the downtrodden and rural masses. He even refused to become a minister in Dr. Singh’s cabinet. If he wished, he could have easily gotten a plum posting but to the great credit of this great scion of the Nehru family, he refused but preferred to work with the masses.

He may become PM one day when he readies himself for that position after working hard with the masses. This was the message sent to all the youth of the country. That is why Congress is regaining its lost position as the single largest party in the country.

Sonia Gandhi should be remembered as not only the saviour of the Congress party but also the most charismatic leader of the masses. She would be particularly remembered for her monumental sacrifice to become PM for the sake of unity of the country. She is rightly in the Forbes List of most influential people of Asia.

Sonia Gandhi might have been born in Italy, but today she is very much an Indian. Sonia more than her daughter Priyanka, could be the next Indira Gandhi of Indian politics. Sonia could continue to guide Congress outside the government. Jai Hind.