India Election: Sonia Gandhi’s Extraordinary Political Path

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Extraordinary-Political-PathAnadolu Agency profiles India’s leading political figures ahead of upcoming election results

By Mubasshir Mushtaq

NEW DELHI – From a sleepy Italian village to the power corridors of Delhi; Congress Party President Sonia Maino Gandhi’s journey reads like a fairytale.

She moved to India in 1968 after marrying Rajiv Gandhi, the son of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, but the assassinations of both —- Indira in 1984 and Rajiv in 1991 — pushed her into the spotlight. After six years of persistent refusal, during which the ruling Congress party had faced a leadership crisis and large-scale defections, in 1997 Sonia Gandhi joined the fight to reverse the downward slide of India’s grand old party.

In 1999, Gandhi contested her first election becoming the Leader of Opposition in India’s lower house of Parliament, while the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government ruled India. For five years, she quietly worked to revive Congress’s dwindling fortunes, even as her opponents and rivals chastised her for being “foreign”.

In the 2004 national election, Gandhi surprised many as her party tore into the BJP’s marketing blitz, dislodging the right-wing party and defying all poll predictions. The victory was Gandhi’s but she “sacrificed” the prime ministerial post when the issue of her “foreign birth” was revived; she became the chairperson of the coalition government. In 2007, Time magazine termed her the “most influential Indian.”

For the next 10 years, Gandhi remained the unquestioned leader of the Congress-led coalition government. She has been credited with introducing a number of landmark legislations like Right to Information, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Right to Education, Right to Food – part of what her opponents have called her “socialist” agenda.

Gandhi’s grip began to slip after the 2009 re-election as her coalition partners’ names figured in a number of corruption scandals that resulted in mass public anger against the incumbent government. Gandhi’s silence on a series of alleged scams, including a controversial land-deal involving her son-in-law Robert Vadra, has come in for sharp criticism by the opposition and political analysts.

In 2014 election, Gandhi contested from her seat of Rae Bareli in India’s biggest state of Uttar Pradesh but barely campaigned because of an unknown medical condition. Her 43-year-old son Rahul Gandhi took the reigns. To advance what critics are calling the “continuation of dynastic politics”.

1 COMMENT

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

    In 1937 , Walt Disney produced ( in 2D / Black & White ) , a film ,

    “ Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “

    Around the World , this fairy tale became immensely popular , among children and adults , alike

    Closer at home , in 2014 , Narendra Modi crafted a colorful and 3D holographic film, titled ,

    “ Sonia and the Thirty-Nine Dwarfs “

    [ – also known as Congress Working Committee ]

    This became hugely popular in villages and towns of India

    And parents started teaching their tiny tots , a brand new nursery rhyme ,

    “ Madam – Baba sat on a throne

    Madam – Baba had a great fall

    All the Congress yes-men

    And all the UPA dwarfs

    Could not put Madam and Baba

    Together again “

    But surprise of surprise !

    For the Nth time , the yes-men were singing , in unison ,

    “ No !

    No , we won’t accept your resignations “

    Among those 39 dwarfs , sat a puppet , who had earlier called Narendra Modi , “ Impotent “

    Little realizing that he would himself , be playing that role when election dust settles !

    Never before in the history of India , have so few inflicted so much misery on so many – and for so long !

    It is high time the dwarfs fade away from our collective memory !

    * hemen Parekh ( 21 May 2014 / Mumbai )

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