Sonia Gandhi is a bigger leader than Rahul: So what?

By picking on Sonia as a replacement for Rahul - apparently when the former was found to be ineffective - the BJP and its leaders such as Modi and Jaitley are perhaps falling into the trap that Sonia has laid. By this comparison, they have accepted her as a formidable leader of the Congress forgetting that all these years, they had never accepted her of any political acumen and had mostly made fun of her.

G Pramod Kumar April 17, 2014 04:11:36 IST
Sonia Gandhi is a bigger leader than Rahul: So what?

Whether it’s main nahin mum or main nahin hum, Italy-born Sonia Gandhi is Congress’ tallest leader and its best bet against its opponents. It doesn't matter that leaders such as Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley feel that she is back in the fray because son Rahul Gandhi hasn’t been as effective as the party thought.

On Wednesday, she was in Kanyakumari, on the Kerala-TN border, and Karim Nagar in Telangana drawing big crowds, In Kanyakumari, she was smart to evoke the emotions linking Rajiv Gandhi’s sacrifice for the Tamil cause, while in Karim Nagar she staked claim for the formation of the new state. Ultimately, she would end up clocking more miles and meetings than post-emergency Mrs Gandhi.

Despite the adverse opinion polls and discouraging words from the media, and disparaging remarks from the BJP, she didn’t stutter. She was tough and appeared confident. Earlier, perhaps in a last ditch effort to ask for hard work and accountability, she threatened chief ministers of Congress-ruled state with action if the party fared badly.

Sonia Gandhi is a bigger leader than Rahul So what

Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. AFP.

For somebody with a late-acquired Indian nativity and political interest, Sonia Gandhi is indeed a phenomenon to have such a following in India who is capable of taking on the likes of Narendra Modi when others, including his son, are not good enough. Despite some unknown illness, she is unfazed and is keeping the Congress flocks together. It’s her who’s Congress party’s strongest adhesive and her Italianised Hindi is the party’s lifeline.

As fair-minded men in a country that is increasingly demanding women’s equality, Modi and Jaitley should have been charitable to Sonia, or at least equanimous. “All of a sudden Sonia Gandhi has come to the fore to take charge of the (election) campaign. She had thought that her son would do something. But when nothing happened. What could she do? The mother herself had to come to the fore, appear on TV to deliver advertised messages to the nation,” Modi reportedly said on her TV advertisement that has been doing the rounds over the last two days.

The only message yesterday's speech of Sonia Gandhi telecast on paid television time is that Congress party's new slogan now is 'Mein Nahin, Mom’, said Arun Jaitley.

What goes unnoticed in this politics of attrition is Sonia Gandhi’s record so far since she famously gave up the opportunity to head the country’s government more than ten years ago. When it was on the verge of collapse, she steered the party into a coalition victory and remote-controlled two coalition governments. The UPA government of the first term was indeed a success that led to another government, which in due course accumulated the inevitable anti-incumbency points of a decade.

In other words, she was the campaign manager for the two governments that ran the country for ten years and was even the de-facto prime minister, whether author Sanjaya Baru saw it directly or not. Imagine an international bureaucrat-turned prime minister Manmohan Singh without and a Congress and without Sonia - India would have been banana republic dictated by the IMF and the WB.

By picking on Sonia as a replacement for Rahul - apparently when the former was found to be ineffective - the BJP and its leaders such as Modi and Jaitley are perhaps falling into the trap that Sonia has laid. By this comparison, they have accepted her as a formidable leader of the Congress forgetting that all these years, they had never accepted her of any political acumen and had mostly made fun of her.

It doesn’t matter if Rahul Gandhi was not as effective as Sonia because Rahul, by his own admission, is still cutting his teeth in politics. Even with a wide range of choices at his disposal for about ten years, he didn’t ask for anything, let alone the role of the prime minister. Whether he had the acumen to become even a junior minister is immaterial; what mattered was that he never staked any claim.

So, all that is attributed to him is what we hear from the BJP. Modi repeatedly targeted him as if he is going to be his rival for the PM’s post; and now when Sonia ups the ante, he and his colleagues are targeting her as well.

Sonia should be happy that the BJP is behaving in a way she would have wanted because by her intensified efforts, what she looked for was attention. More than the public, the BJP is granting enough of it.

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