ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS Sonia Gandhi's move to contest from Rae Bareli is surprising, underlying 10 Janpath’s desperate bid to shore up Congress prospects in the 2019 general elections and keep the party cadre motivated.
However, in doing so, the former Congress president has over-ruled herself. Sonia had toyed with the idea of retiring from politics in 2016 when she turned 70. The party, however, kept pressuring, dithering and delaying till Rahul Gandhi was crowned party president when the Gujarat assembly polls were underway. For the past one year, Sonia had almost stopped meeting Congress leaders, telling them to call on Rahul. However, political compulsions or the doctrine of necessity due to the post-Pulwama and surgical strikes scenario has forced her to junk her own desire to set an example of voluntary retirement from public life. The development signals, yet again, the clout of the Congress old guard over the Gandhis. In other words, for the first time in contemporary history, the country’s illustrious political family has become hopelessly dependent on the party than the other way round.
“Sonia Gandhi dobara” has its positives. The woman from Orbassano is one of the finest graduates from the university of life. From available indications, she is preparing herself to play the role of a “kingmaker” after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls if the verdict is split.
Sonia has come a long way from the “foreign bahu” tag and has the ability to overrule both Priyanka and Rahul, reach out to every non-NDA constituent and act swiftly. She was quick to learn that in the age of coalition politics, alliances were the way forward. As I wrote in ‘Sonia — A Biography’ (Penguin), many years ago, Sonia and Mulayam Singh Yadav had attended a dinner at Somnath Chatterjee’s residence. Sonia was tucking into a hilsa when Mulayam took a potshot, saying: "Madam, be careful. Hilsa hai. Kanta chubh jayenge (the fish bone may hurt you).” Sonia's retort was quick. “Main kanton se joojhna janti hoon (I know how to deal with thorns),” she said.